Creating Characters

So, in my creative writing classes I’m exposed to a lot of different people’s writing. Some people are awesome at description (I am not one of them…), others are kick-ass at dialogue, while others make really believable characters. I have a classmate Nikki who is great at this, but since she has yet to be published another person is John Green. He’s characters are people who I would’ve hung out with in high school.

But maybe you are one of those people who have a hard time making your characters real. So, here I am to help.

You may be asking, “Who are you to tell me how to making awesome real-like characters?”

So I consider myself one of these authors who make realistic characters? No. But I don’t think I suck. And since I am NOT the best at it, I can pass on some tips on how to get better. I have had to hunt these down myself.

Characters are super important to a story. Have shitty characters? No one will want to keep reading your book. In one of my lectures we were told that people 70% of the time watch a movie/read a book for the characters. If all of a sudden a mystery novel comes out and Harry Potter shows up in it, would you read it? I would. I would just to see Harry again. I can remember when I finished reading the books I cried. Hardcore. Yes, I will admit it. But, in my defense Harry and I had grown up together. When he was 11 so was I. When he was awkward and a teenager who could never fit in, so was I. So, when the books ended it was like I had just lost an entire group of friends. It was heartbreaking.

And I think that’s what you want when you create a character. Someone people will miss when they close the book.

How can you make a character like this? I think lots is observation. Go to coffee shops, sit there and make up back stories for the people in there. I used to do this every week with my best friend in high school. Observe how people walk, talk, interact with people. Another way is to channel all those suppressed feelings. Writing a “bad guy” — then find your inner bad guy. What would you do? I think watching TV and reading helps a lot too.

Also, one of my favorite exercises is interviewing your characters. Find out who they are. Or, have someone else interview you as your character. That’s even better. It gets you thinking in ways you haven’t before.

A book that I have (and am in the process of reading) is Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up and also Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook is an awesome resource. It has sections for every aspect of your novel — and yes, character as well.

So what inspired this longwinded post was this webpage Questionnaires for Writing Character Profiles. I was using it and thought, “Hmmm maybe I should post this on my blog…” And I did. I think it can give you a fantastic foundation to build on for a character.

All right, that’s all I got.

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