Three steps to better characters

Hello there fellow writers/readers! I’m on spring break this week, so my mood has been drastically improved with all of this time to get everything done. I hope your week has been going just as well!

Today I’d like to take a stab at what are essentially the lifeblood of a story, characters. This part can make or break your story just as much as the plot itself, so don’t be afraid to put a lot, and I mean A LOT, of effort into them. When you are able to created beautiful characters that are so real they could live next door to you, then you’ve mastered the art. But for those of us who haven’t, including myself at times, here’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • No one is perfect. No one. Not even your superhuman, scientifically-engineered-to-be-perfect character in your newest sci-fi fic. They will have a drawback, an achilles heel, somewhere, otherwise it would be impossible for them to encounter plausible opposition. Whether it’s a longing for a relationship in a romance that gets your guy/gal into a questionable partnership or a lack of humanity in the aforementioned sci-fi story, they will need something that can bring them down. Any character that hinges on mary-sue status (perfect character with no faults or downfalls) needs to either be revamped into a better idea or thrown into the furnace of discarded ideas.
  • Characters don’t have just one side to them. There’s a part that everyone sees, maybe part of them only their family sees, and things they will not tell anyone at all. Revealing everything at once to your reader could not only be overwhelming but is impractical and can lose their attention quite quickly.
  • There is always a motivation somewhere for whatever actions your characters are taking. They can’t do something ‘just because’, since even if they say that, there was a reason somewhere.
    • This can get especially important with your villains. Are they completely, 100% evil and insane and just doing what they’re doing because? Are they reluctantly following orders? Are they legitimately thinking that they’re doing the right thing?

This isn’t a foolproof list of things to consider when creating new people, but hopefully I’ve given you a few starting points to build the next protagonist, antagonist, or side character in your story.

Happy writing! 🙂