Thursday, 21 July 2011

12 Important Points For Creating Story Characters

Tell Me a Story

Characters are central to your story and you must get them right or your story will never work.
  1. In my early days I received advice from an established writer that stood me in good stead - cut out magazine pictures of people who suit your story and build characters around them. I followed it ever since. I stick mine above my workspace so I never forget who they are and what they look like. Be warned, never tell readers who your characters might look like - use your descriptive powers instead.
  2. I spend a fair bit of time developing a complete profile of all the physical qualities, mental traits, mannerisms, education, backgrounds, friends and family, for each of my main characters before I start to write. I know what music they like, what food, what drink, what taste in clothes, what makes them laugh, smile, and cry. My characters become people, before they hit the page.
  3. In order for readers to believe in your characters, you must believe in them first. You must know everything about them in order to understand how they will react in a given situation.
  4. To capture reader’s attention, it is essential your characters come across as real people.
  5. In a novel, ‘real’ is not tantamount to run of the mill. We're all run of the mill. Run of the mill is boring. However, bear in mind the most mundane person can turn out to be exceptional under pressure.
  6. Your readers should always empathize with your main characters.
  7. You should always empathize with your main characters.
  8. Actions and situations influence people. Your characters must develop with the story, and should be different at the end than the beginning; they must have ‘grown’ in some way.
  9. You must never allow protagonist to behave out of character just to fit in with the plot. Nothing in your story should feel contrived.
  10. You must demonstrate all attributes of your central people by showing not by telling, and this includes aptitude, looks, strengths, intellect, and emotional qualities.
  11. Eccentric personalities can help differentiate characters, but keep it low key or it will seem out of place. Remember, Less Is More.
  12. Create unforgettable characters, and readers will think it is an unforgettable story.