Create Interesting And Believable Fiction Characters

Learn how to create interesting and believable charcters for your fiction writing. It could be the difference between a sold story and one left sitting on your shelf.

The best way to create believable yet interesting characters is to observe real people. You can easily find all the character traits you would need from any one person. I do not suggest you do this. I have found it makes a more interesting character if it is composed from several different people. The method I use is as follows:

1. Gather a list of physical features from friends, family, and strangers. Include hair color, texture, thickness, and length in your list. Look at eye color and shape, mouth shape, nose shape and size, chin shape, and general face shape to include in your lists as well. (Remember- thoroughness now will benefit you later.)

2. Next, look to your family and close friends to find personality traits. Make a list of these, too. Types of traits you might find could be shyness, low self-esteem, hot temperedness, naiveness, and conceit. Friends and family work best for these because you will know the person well enough to know how these traits make them respond to many different situations. This increases your believability.

3. Listen to everyone you encounter during your day to detect speech patterns. You can gather this information from your parents to the woman in front of you at a check-out line. Make lists of odd or unusual catch phrases you hear someone use repeatedly. Pay attention to how a person's accent causes them to mispronounce words or use incorrect grammar in casual conversations. (e.g. someone who refers to everyone as "honey", or "son", or due to their accent, says something like "Whatcha cookin' in here?")

4. Next, you should look at the extra characteristics that will help distinguish people from one another in your story. These details also help the reader remember some characters better than others. Take note of things like missing appendages, limps, or freckles. Also watch for nervous habits like hand wringing, eye twitches, or nail biting, and write them down. The notes you write down now will become invaluable tools for you later as time has a way of dulling our memories for the finer details.

5. After gathering the information in lists, lay them out and look them over. Begin picking out various characteristics and traits you feel compliment each other. Don't forget- every person has strengths AND weaknesses so try to keep it balanced. Too many strengths in a character can make it hard for people to relate to him/her. Readers will tire quickly of characters that are "too good to be true". A few weaknesses will give them something to overcome and help keep the character real in the eyes of the readers. Decide how the character will look and then how they will act. Throw in a unique speech pattern or favorite catch phrase and possibly an extra distinguishing trait if it is needed.

6. The final step is to take the character profile you have just made and write it down on an index card. You can give them a name now or wait until you use them in a story. Do as many as you like and store them in a box or file. This makes them convenient for future reference. Then the next time you are struck with a great story idea, you can thumb through these cards and quickly find the perfect hero, villian, or whomever you need to make your story come to life.

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