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Foolproof Ways to Flesh Out Your Characters

Creative writing, we all know, requires a bit more than creativity to design and invent characters that are three-dimensional and anything but transient. Though it often seems like work, proper drafting and creating of these characters can be, and should be, an adventure worth the daily grind. To help you in this venture, here are a few foolproof ways to flesh out your characters and write a story that everyone will want to read:

1. Figure out the role each character plays in your piece.

Imagine you are a journalist about to interview someone for a story. To do so, you must know, ahead of time, some outline of how this person will help shape your story. Do they exist as a firsthand witness to an event or are they the victim or principal part of the story? Ask yourself what makes each of your characters important to the story and what part they have to play. This basic information will shape the remainder of your exercises.

CHARACTERS

2. Ask questions of your characters.

You’ve already narrowed down their position in your piece. Now you need to investigate who they are as people. Your object should be to understand not only their history, but how they think and interact with themselves and others. Are they introverted? Where did they go to high school? How do they decorate their bedroom? Think of it, almost, as creating a social media profile for your character. What would this person share about his/her life? How do they react to being in their hometown after a long absence?

Ask them the questions and pretend they are talking to you. That’s right. Have a conversation with your fictional characters. Doing so will allow you to better understand how they respond to the people around them. There are a number of great questionnaires online which can help with the process.

3. Develop your characters through exercises.

Before even beginning to write your story, take time to develop your characters through a variety of exercises. These should be more than simply asking questions. Now is the time to find out how they react to various situations by putting them through some extreme circumstances. How would your main character react to the unexpected death of a loved one? Have each of your characters speak about the one thing they are most passionate about. What do they know of the subject and how do they know it? Create these fictional pieces outside of your main transcript, and you’ll find that writing the actual thing becomes quite a bit easier.

Writing solid, believable characters in fictional works is incredibly important. If you want your story to last, be believable and worth repeating, your characters cannot be stagnant. By putting together these exercises and taking the time to investigate your characters, you’ll be providing your reader with characters they can relate to and view as real people.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and designer who loves learning and sharing new techniques for improving the quality of your writing. Get in touch by following @adrienneerin on Twitter or checking out her design blog.

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