How to Create Characters

by Author Colleen Green

Authors develop characters that readers sympathize with. They can move us to tears, make our blood boil, cause us to squeal in joy, or gasp in fear. Ever love to hate a character? I have. Can’t stop reading until you’re finished? The reason is because you care about their hero or heroine.

How can you achieve such a strong emotional bond between your reader and your fictional people? You should get to know everything you can about your protagonist and antagonist when creating them. Especially their personality and what drives them to obtain a goal. It will help you understand their feelings. Showing your character’s raw emotions through action is a powerful writer’s tool. It pulls your reader deeper into the story.

Answering some questions will help you flush out how your characters are reacting to what is happening around them. You may even play around with the plot, moving the order of events to provide more drama. Withholding information from some and not others, including the reader, can drastically change the outcome of events. If you have a small town or group you can separate them according to their united fronts. Here are questions to answer for each of your characters.

  • What is motivating your characters to take action?

For example, your protagonist may be greedy. He or she puts money above everything else. Money is the person’s motivation for taking action. You can imagine the problems this may cause. Conflicts could arise such as resentment from a spouse and selfish decisions that harm others, all in the name of increasing wealth. It is the way your characters show their emotions that should drive your story.

  • What are they are trying to achieve?
  • How can you make the situation more urgent for the character to obtain their goals?
  • Does time play a part on when goals must be completed?

Success can be defined in different ways. It can be tangible like a quest for buried treasure. It can be emotional like forgiveness. The obstacles to reaching their objectives will help to form your plot.

  • How will they change or evolve?

If they stay the same, that may cause problems.

  • Do they verbalize their opinions or keep them to themselves?
  • How does their relationship with their family shape their personality?
  • Are they loners or more social?
  • Is there a way to show contrast between two characters?
  • Does one character exploit another one?

How your characters interact with others plays a part in the plot. Lives are affected by what people do and say around each other.

  • How is their self-esteem?
  • What are their flaws?
  • What are their strengths?
  • What does your character value?
  • What does your character despise?

Finding the answer to these questions will help you find ways to show the answers. When the answers affect the story timeline, use them. One character could be strong in an area where another is weak. If the sidekick or minor character fits this description then he or she could help the main character reach a goal. Or a villain might use the hero’s weakness to make it even harder for him to succeed.

  • How does where they live affect their actions and speech?

Keeping where they live and work in mind allows the writer to be realistic about dialogue and actions. For example, New Yorker’s tend to be in a hurry whereas people from California may be more laid back. Southern states have accents and sayings that other places may not use.

Have fun and keep writing!

Click on the link below to listen to author Colleen Green’s interview on Blog Talk Internet Radio Show That’s Novel on Wednesday May 25th. Author W. Ferraro will be on from 8 pm – 9 pm and Colleen Green will be from 9 pm -10 pm.



book cover Last Words