Books are something that everyone can enjoy; they give us a place to escape to, a way to fill our mundane existences with life and magic. But what is it that makes these stories so engaging? Is it the plot itself? The world it takes place in? The writing? The truth is, the brilliance of good books stems from a winning meld of all of these elements. But the key to writing is something more; it’s the glue that holds these pieces together. And that glue, is what your characters are made of. With believable, deep characters, even some slightly outrageous stories can become plausible. Here are some tips to help you on the path to starting to bring a character to life:
1. Backstory isn’t the story you’re telling
In creating your character, you have to come up with their personal history. But it is easy to get carried away with backstory, and let it overshadow the story you’re trying to tell. Remember, you are trying to make a believable character, a person, and it isn’t often that we just randomly think of everything that’s happened in our pasts; the few times we do, it’s because of some sort of trigger.
2. People aren’t perfect; your characters are people
Flaws are a part of human nature. If you want to create a relatable character, you have to give them flaws, both big and little. They can have qualities of course, but no one only has talents. But remember, these weaknesses and attributes are not a checklist of character elements you need to embody in every scene, some situations will bring them out more than others.
3. Appearance can reflect personality
The way a character acts, looks, and speaks can tell someone a lot about them. Their little quirks, the things they enjoy, their daily routines, the way they walk, and present themselves can show a lot about their pasts and how they think of themselves and the world around them.
4. Avoid stagnancy
Once you’ve come up with your character, it is too easy to find yourself inclined to write them out and be done with it. But that is absolutely the wrong approach; the thing about people and characters is that they are in constant motion. Their opinions of people, of things, of the world, and of themselves will change. They will change.
5. Show, don’t tell
If you tell your readers how your character is and the character’s reactions don’t coincide with the description you have provided, your character may appear sloppy. In telling, the character has a form to meld to, in showing, the characters can express themselves, and come alive.
These are just tips, a good way to get started if you will. They are not laws; because remember, the key to writing is creativity.
About the Contributor: Amanda is a high school student. She spends her time writing, reading, and watching television. She hopes to someday become a published novelist and possibly pursue a career in psychology.