How To Effectively Write Strong And Compelling Characters

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One of the ways that make a story addictive to read are the characters. They are the ones who act for you while you sit on the director's chair. You convey what you want the readers to know through the characters that you use.

Characters are imperfect like people. They don't have to be likeable, because, let's be honest, even you, don't like everyone that you meet. There will always be that one person who will irritate you or make you pull all of your hair. So as I've said, your characters doesn't have to be likeable, but they have to be interesting.

Let's break down steps on how to write a compelling and strong characters.

1.Design Your Characters - First,your going to be spending a lot of time with your characters. Whatever form they come in,they have to be relatable, believable, consistent and someone who the readers will feel invested in. You can take cues from real people and turn them into characters. Or you can build them from the ground up by assigning personality types.

2.Show Them To The World - Tell details to evoke your character. Let the readers know what they look like and how they dress through details. Do they have black hair, blonde hair, blue eyes, or do they dress in all black, or likes to wear shorts over their pants.

3.Familiarizing The Character - It is like giving a nickname to someone. It could be a title like "city mayor", "the famous jock", or a physical attribute like "the ginger-head" or the "lanky guy". When you mention these identifiers, the readers will immediately know who are you talking about.

4.Give Your Characters The Proper Talent Or Skills - Give your characters the right skills that will allow them to function well in your setting. If you're story is set on outer space, make sure your character has a space suit or learns how to use one.

5.Let The Readers See Their Inner Conflict - This means allowing the reader to see the character's thoughts, which reveals their inner conflict, opinions, motivations, and personality. Internal monologue not only provides deeper understanding in the person's character; it is also a way to convey information about setting, events, and other characters. This will create intimacy with your reader and will get them to care about your characters.

6.Overturn The Reader's Expectations - A character should be consistent, but a right amount of surprise isn't harmful. If done correctly, this will show a some character development. The most interesting characters will surprise readers. Think about it this way : We don't have to pay attention to things that are stable and quiet. But when something unexpected happens, we pay attention.

Character Development

Now, for the character development, you may build a biography or a chart or a diagram- whatever suits your taste, for each of your characters. This will not only help with consistency throughout the novel, but it will also allow you to deepen your understanding of the character, and enrich them. Each feature, each personality trait you add to a character also defines something that a reader can connect with. We are all complex creatures, and your novel's characters should be too.

When writing your biography, note down aspects such as: age, gender and sexual orientation, race and place of birth, eye and hair color, clothing preferences, defining features, personal history, resulting personality, habits and quirks, accent or word choices, and of course, purpose.

You can also use questions to develop your characters and learn how they behave. The list of questions that I usually use are these:

  1. What is the character's name?
  2. What is their gender?
  3. When is their birthday? What is their age at the beginning of the story?
  4. What do they look like?
  5. What is their general disposition? Are they frowny? Or are they smiley?
  6. Where do they live?
  7. What do they eat?
  8. How do they dress?
  9. What major experiences have they had in their lives?
  10. Have they had any traumatic experiences?
  11. Did they have a bad childhood?
  12. Or did they have a good childhood suddenly destroyed by a traumatic event?
  13. Do they have any obsessions?
  14. Are they in love? Is unrequited?
  15. Do they have any pets?
  16. Do they have any medical conditions?
  17. What do they like to do in their spare time? Do they have any spare time?
  18. What are their friends like?
  19. What are their hobbies?
  20. What are they most embarrassed by?
  21. Where they went on their first date? And with whom?

Dissecting your character for the their development is also useful. Let's try it by using the following descriptions to gauge out our descriptions:

1.View the character through a creative lens. For example, does she have a nickname? What did she do to earn it? Does it refer to her appearance? Her attitude? How does she feel about it?

2.Choose one event from your character's past and elaborate on that. For example, your character has a back injury from an accident while he was riding a car. Does he move differently now? Do people treat him differently? What are the psychological repercussions of the accident?

3. Choose one of your character's personality traits and list the ways that it's expressed. If your character is nervous, he might bite his nails, pace around, or startle easily.

4. What space has your character created for themselves? This can be offstage- a bedroom, an expensive car with all the right gadgets, the perfectly-stocked kitchen, a library, the garden. Describe your character in that space.

Character Purpose

And now, last but not the least is your character's purpose. Each of your characters needs to have a purpose. Everyone on earth has a purpose. Short-term or long-term, we all want something. Each of your characters, no matter how minor, needs to have a purpose. It's how each of these motivations interact, conjoin and conflict that will allow a story to shine- making it inherently human and believable.

From writing biographies and creating purpose, you will be able see which characters clash or mix with one another, and that's how you start to hone in on some of the key moments in your story- places where you can create tension or intrigue.