Posts Tagged ‘character development’

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.


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.


December 12, 2013 8:05 am

How to: Write a Convincing Character

One of the biggest problems many of our students have when writing fiction is with character development. It’s difficult to create a three-dimensional character that will ring true for your readers, but it’s absolutely essential in order to fully immerse readers in your story. Here are a few guidelines to help you write a convincing character.

How to write a convincing character in your novels and stories

Do you really know your character?

You might have a general idea about who your character is (age, name, gender, occupation, etc), but do you really know your character?

As a writer, it’s your job to know everything about your character. From his (or her) marital status to his taste in music. Even if some of these details don’t show up in your story, knowing that your character was unpopular in high school, for example, will help you add realism to your story. It will also make your job much easier, as it will give you a better idea of how this person you’ve created would act in certain situations.

As you’re outlining your story, make a separate fact sheet for each of your characters. Begin filling it in with background information. The following list are some of my favorite questions for writers to ask themselves when creating backstory. Feel free to use this list, or make one that works for you:

  1. What does your character look like?
  2. What level of education does your character have?
  3. Where does your character work?
  4. What is your character’s annual income?
  5. What is your character’s ethnicity?
  6. Does your character speak using a particular accent, drawl, or turn of phrase?
  7. Describe your character’s relationships: romantic, familial, friends
  8. What does your character do in his/her spare time?
  9. What, if any, politics does your character follow?
  10. What, if any, religion does your character belong to?
  11. Does your character have any superstitions?
  12. What are your character’s main fears?
  13. What are your character’s biggest flaws?
  14. What are your character’s biggest strengths?
  15. What ambitions or goals does your character have?
  16. Does your character have any pets?
  17. What is your character’s taste in music, books, movies, etc?
  18. What does your character like to eat?
  19. When is your character’s birthday?
  20. Does your character have any special talents?
  21. Who are your character’s friends?
  22. Who are you character’s enemies?
  23. Does your character have any special marking like tattoos or scars?
  24. How does your character see him/herself?
  25. How do others see your character?

The list could go on and on, but these 25 questions are a great start to creating well-rounded characters.

Remember – as writers, your characters can be just like your best friends or  your second family. If you think of them as whole, real people complete with histories, worries, and ambitions, they will translate that way to your readers, and make your stories so much richer! 


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