Friday, September 24

Creating Characters That Rock!

        The Great Blogging Experiment has arrived today with over 170 bloggers hitting the keyboards to tell you their methods for creating compelling characters.  This is a ginormous event brought to you by the fabulous Blogging Trifecta of Elana, Jen and Alex.  What an amazing turnout!
Do you want your characters like this?  If so, just skip this post.
        Not that plot, setting, pace and other factors aren't important, but it will be the characters who push and pull a reader through your book--guaranteed.  But what is it about your characters that makes you care about them so much, whether they succeed or fail?  It comes to one all-important thing: making the character real. Think about what you love and hate, like and dislike, about people around you, in movies, in books, and then apply what works.

Keep in mind:

Real people are complex and have flaws as well as strengths.
Readers want to like the characters but don't expect or want perfection, just believability.  They want to identify with the characters.  Even antagonists need both.  Most don't believe they're bad at all.
Real people act, live their lives.  They don't wait around for things to just happen.
Give them goals to work for and realistic conflict to overcome. 
Real people are diverse with backgrounds and experiences to make them unique.
Do they talk, act, dress, interact authentically given their background? Do you have too many characters all with different accents or peculiarities?  A little is good, but too much is unbelievable, unless it's relevant to the story you're writing.
Real people are fairly consistent in how they talk and react to situations.
Know your character inside and out.  What motivates him/her/it?  How does the character deal with obstacles?  What flavor would your character order at Baskin Robbins and why?  Paper or plastic?
Real people are reflected in their surroundings.
Physical attributes, body language, clothing, setting and even a name or nickname can reveal character.
Real people grow as they learn and experience new things.
Some don't change, but the ones that really rock do!
Many writers suggest a character analysis or character interviews to get to know the character better.  One piece of advice above all others that helps me the most is to think about how your other characters would describe your character.  What makes him/her stand out from the others?  How well do your other characters know each other?  I hope something in this post will help someone in the blogosphere!  Thank you all for coming by my post.


  1. You summed it up so well, Angela!!
    And ginormous is an accurate description. I don't think I'm going to make it to all the posts, but each one so far has offered so much, I have to try!

  2. This is an excellent summation of all the things we need to keep in mind when writing compelling characters. You broke it down in lovely manageable pieces. Thanks!

  3. Great points, not just for a compelling character, but also for a good story, especially the last point on learning and change.

  4. Love this!! Your list is super accurate. I think I'm gonna have to write this down :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Good point about a character's surroundings showing what he/she is like! I also like your third point.

  6. Good job! I have a few friends that do posters on their characters before they start a ms...cutting out likes and dislikes, hobbies all kinds of bits and pieces. I haven't tried it yet, but it seems like a great idea...

  7. Great post! I love the part about characters being reflected in their surroundings.

  8. Love the idea about the characters describing each other! I'm stealing that one. :)

    I agree that the best characters are the ones that change. I'm in the midst of reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and while it's cute and sweet, none of the main characters really change. I think that's why they've lost a good bit of popularity now.

    Thanks for the post!

  9. Fantastic post! People learn, so should characters. Brilliant. Thank you!

  10. A good list. I'm a seat of the pants kind of lady but I posted a more in-dept creative because so many of my friends swear by it.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  11. Well organized, this is a perfect list! Very good, thoughtful questions; I'm going to have to use them to help me with my own writing. Thanks so much!

  12. I totally agree that consistency is key. Characters need to be predictable in their reactions and then gradually change throughout a novel - but the reader needs to be there with them on that journey so that it makes sense.

  13. Another great post. And you're right about people not thinking they're bad. Even serial killers believe they are justified in their actions.

  14. Real people act. They don't just react or are acted upon. Great post.

  15. Great summary! My favourite point is how the characters have to act, not react - just like us real folks :)

  16. Thought provoking post! Real people reflect their surroundings - true they usually do or they don't either way the comfort of reading is predicting how each type will react in their physical setting - or not.

  17. Consistency is key - you're the first person to mention that. I've read manuscripts where characters don't react like they'd led me to believe they would.

  18. I love your fourth point. It's hard to read characters that don't act like any human I know. I want to be able to relate. Great post with clear guidelines.


  19. Complete and concise! Consistency is something that is easy to forget when you get caught up in the story. Thanks goodness for revisions! Appreciate your post.

  20. Great post! And a lot of great information. Glad I found your blog. :)

  21. Great point, to think about how other characters would describe your character. I hadn’t come across that one before. Thanks for the post!

  22. These are excellent points! Thanks for sharing and glad I found my way here :)


  23. Great post! You made some especially good points in real characters acting, not just waiting for things to happen (in other words, THEY drive the story; the story doesn't drive itself), and in real characters being reflected in their surroundings. I never thought about that second one, but it's true.

  24. Can you believe I'm still going thru the blogfest posts. I know--I'm slow.
    I like your emphasis on "real". If they're not real then the story is not going to be believable.

    Tossing It Out


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