They have a way of weaseling their way into our hearts.
After the years have passed and the details blurred, the thing that remains is our relationship with people.
That’s the magic in reading a book. We spend time getting to know characters and in turn, they let us into their lives.
Creating lovable characters is no easy task. There’s no set formula. There are, however, tools that can help. Here are four tools you can use to develop your characters.
Play 20 Questions with Your Characters
This is one of my favorites and I do it for everyone of my main characters. I have a word document full of questions for each character. I’ve included an infographic with 20 questions to get you started here. Get creative and make up your own questions!
Is your character introverted or extroverted? Are they an otter, lion, golden retriever or beaver? What is their Meyer Briggs personality? Before starting your book, you need to know your character inside and out. How will they respond to the situations you throw them into? These different tests can be helpful in determining what type of person your character is and how they will respond.
Of course one of the best ways to develop believable characters is to pull from real life. I keep a file of notes on interesting people I meet. Sometimes I have full descriptions and sometimes I just jot something down quick. Whatever it may be, write it down so that later you can pull from this repository.
Create Hybrid Characters
Real life is sometimes boring. So are some people. A good way to add spice to your characters is to develop hybrid characters. Try combining several characters into one.
What would your friend, who’s deathly afraid of heights, look like if he was combined with the rock climbing bum from the gym? A rock-climber terrified of heights but who can’t give up his passion? Now that’s intriguing.
Not all hybrid characters will work. Sometimes combining several key characteristics from different people is a better approach. Take your cunning coworker with the kindness and nativity of your best friend and add to it the backstabbing betrayal from your favorite character on TV. Play around with your characters and try different combinations until you have one that’s unique but realistic.
These are a few of the tools I use to flesh out my characters and bring them to life. What are some things you’ve found helpful? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Candace signing off.
Photo credit: Hoping for by nale/CC BY
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