Creating Fictional Characters

The key to writing a good story or novel is creating interesting fictional characters. Here is how to create wonderful, believable characters.

The first thing to consider when writing a novel or story is the characters. Even more than the plot, your characters will decide where the story goes. If you try to manipulate them to do what you want, your story will crash, but if you let your characters lead, they will practically write your story for you.

There are two types of characters, flat and round. Flat characters don't change throughout the story. They are just for background purposes and so will not be very complex. They don't have to be very specific, but if you want to give them a little life, assign each one a specific personality trait that he will exhibit throughout the whole story or novel. You can have the deskman be very grave and serious every time anyone comes into the hotel. The limo driver is a clown and the doorman is a flirt, etc. For your round or main characters you will want to give them more in-depth characteristics. When you decide on the features of your character you can not change them unless that occurs naturally from your plot, such as when the shy character learns to take a stand and feels he must address a group of people and so overcomes his comfort zone. If you have characteristic changes that do not occur naturally from the plot, your novel or story will sound stilted. You can't have the serious executive suddenly start joking around just because you thought of something funny that she could say. If you have an ending in mind but your character wouldn't actually ever do that, then you'll have to abandon your idea and figure out what your character would do in that situation.

So how do you come up with characters that are so realistic that they won't be manipulated into acting out of character? Give them a distinct personality. Pick two to four personality traits. Play with different ones; see how they mesh. It's exciting to see what type of possibilities there are.



Here are a few personality traits you can try:

Bubbly

Shy

Serious

Smart

Sad

Dramatic

Cries easily

Lover of nature

Sports fanatic

Loud

Demanding

Whiny

Self-centered

Focuses on others

Crazy

Irrational

Perfectionist

Reader

Debater

Takes charge

Flirtatious

Naïve

Low self-confidence

Aggressive

Comedian

Sassy

Liar

Straightforward

Entrepreneurial

Eccentric

I'm sure you can come up with more, too.

After you pick the traits you want your character to exhibit you have to get to know him or her. For each of your main characters, write a two-page character summary. Write about their character traits, ways they have used them in the past and ways they will use them in the future. Give plenty of examples until you understand exactly what your character will do in any given situation. Now you have believable characters that will write your story for you.

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