5 Top Tips for Character Building
When it comes to writing fiction, characters are very important. Characters can either make or break your story, which is why you need to focus on character building. The best stories aren't just about the events that make up the plot.
Characters are an essential element that will draw your readers in. It will compel them to keep turning the pages as they identify with the ones they're reading about. But... How do you make great characters?
Let's find out!
5 Top Tips for Character Building
Developing characters involves creating unique and interesting characters with motivations, personalities, and depth. Writing stories is a process. One that involves creating the changes your characters will go through in the story.
If this is your first time creating characters for a story, you’ve come to the right place. If you feel like this is the aspect of fiction writing where you're struggling, these are the tips to help you out.
Create Backgrounds and Profiles for Your Characters
We are the characters in our own life stories. Our realities get influenced by our past, present, and future. But the one thing that has influenced us the most until now is our past.
If you want to make realistic and compelling characters, you need to start by learning how to create character profiles. This is one of the first steps in building characters. You think about who your character is and what their role is in the story.
You need to think about what your character's life has been until the beginning of your story. This will help you create the ideas on how they will act, think, and progress throughout. In your character profiles, consider things like:
- Childhood experiences
- Family members or lack thereof
- Friendships and other significant relationships
- Personality type and characteristics
- Interests, hobbies, and motivations
These are the basic elements that will help you create strong characters. One who will leap off the page and catch your reader's attention.
Give Your Characters Depth
Another important step in character building is to give your characters depth. Why? So, they will become memorable. The best characters are the ones that challenge your readers or make your readers feel genuine affection toward them.
You can do this by giving each of your characters positive traits, which will make your readers like them and root for them. Flaws that will make them more relatable. And other features that will make them more interesting overall.
If you feel like you have an amazing story but can't seem to make the right characters for it, you can always hire professional fiction writers to help you out. That way, you will have the assurance that the characters will do your story justice.
Enhance Your Characters Through Good Dialogue
A character without dialogue can seem empty or incomplete. This is the next thing to focus on as you learn how to develop characters. Dialogues help with the progression of your plot but they also enhance characterization.
Think about how your characters sound when they talk. Come up with interesting speech patterns. In other words, think about what your characters would say in each situation and how they would say it.
For instance, having a shy character who mumbles a lot would make them more believable. Or a character who is knowledgeable should speak confidently when in the presence of others.
These small details will already go a long way into making your characters more notable.
Make Them Do the Unexpected
The most unique characters never act the way people expect them to. Amazing characters are those who experience twists and turns in the plot. This makes them grow, change, or react in ways that are out of character.
Characters who do unexpected things are one of the essential elements of a great story. These kinds of characters will surprise your readers. They will make them feel excited with each turn of the page until they reach the end.
Also, remember that in real life, we all do things that are unexpected. Doing the same for your characters will make them relatable and realistic, especially when the changes happen during exciting events in your story.
Think Carefully About All the Characters in Your Story
Finally, another important writing tip for developing characters is to focus on all the characters in your story, not just the main one. Each story has different characters and you have to develop all of them.
But the time and effort you spend on developing each character will vary. Let's go through the different characters you should focus on:
- The protagonist
This is the main character or the 'hero' of the story. Make sure to give the protagonist a good balance of positive, admirable traits and flaws. That will make them more relatable. Also, give your protagonist the right motivation and a solid character arc throughout the story to make them more interesting.
- The antagonist
This is your character's rival, enemy, or the villain in the story. The antagonist is the one who creates conflict in the story. Make sure your antagonist is powerful and driven. Yet, they have morality, even though it's twisted.
- Secondary or background characters
These are the other characters who will make your story more interesting. They can either be complimentary or oppositional to your antagonist. Sidekicks, best friends, mentors, and the like are great examples of secondary characters. These can enhance the plot of your story.
Spend more time developing your main characters. Don't forget the secondary ones either. Developing characters takes time and you might even make some changes along the way.
All these tips will help you make the best characters for your story. If you want to become proficient in building amazing characters, there’s a lot more to learn.
The Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building Characters
While there are things you should do to create incredible characters, there are also a few mistakes that you should avoid. Knowing these common mistakes will make you self-aware while you are developing characters:
Creating Stereotypical or Predictable Characters
Stereotypical and predictable characters aren't interesting because nothing about them is unique. Try not to include such characters in your character-building process as they might ruin the amazing plot of your story.
Your characters should have consistent behaviors but they shouldn't be predictable or stereotypical. For instance, if you have a rich character in your story, they may act like a rich person because they are.
But that doesn't mean that they should be shallow or uncaring as most people believe of rich people. Such stereotypes can make your readers feel like putting your book down. Especially if they feel like they belong to the same stereotype and you didn't portray them well.
Remember the tip about making your characters do unexpected things. This will give your readers a sense of home while making them feel invested in the characters in your story.
Making 2-Dimensional Characters
Boring characters aren't the way to go either. Try to breathe life into your characters by giving them humanizing characteristics. Surround them with details about their past, personalities, and the lives that they live.
Even if you are creating characters in fantasy tales, try to make them believable so that your readers will identify with them. Give your characters meaningful relationships, too. These will strengthen their personas while enhancing the interactions in your story.
Having Characters That Talk and Think Alike
While it may take time to create different characters with their own personalities, thoughts, and actions, it is key to having an interesting story. If all your characters talk and think alike, your readers will get bored easily.
Think about it: In real life, do we ever talk and think exactly like the people around us?
No, we don't.
So, you should try to vary your characters as much as possible. Make sure to do this if you have characters who come from different places or backgrounds.
Characters That Lack Emotional Range
The main characters all the way to the ones with the smallest roles should display different emotions throughout the story. As your character goes through the plot of the story, they should show a wide range of emotions depending on the situation.
For instance, your main character interacts with a minor character in an emotionally charged scene. They should both have the right emotions to hook your readers in.
Big displays like expressing emotions verbally are essential. So are small details like a character furrowing their brow because they don't understand something. Include such details to ensure that all of your characters have the proper emotional range.
Side Characters with Unclear Roles
As you consider how you develop characters, don't forget about your side characters. These are different from the secondary characters as they play smaller roles, but are still worth developing. The most common side character types are:
- Important characters who only appear in your story briefly but play a significant role in how things pan out. An example of this is one of your protagonist's parents who does something important in the past and your protagonist remembers it in a flashback scene.
- Minor characters who interact with your protagonist or antagonist, but don't play a role in the story. An example is a police officer who asks questions about something. Another example is a little old lady who shares a story with your character while on a bus.
- Nameless characters who only have "cameo roles" in your story such as a passerby, a shop owner, and the like.
No matter how small their parts are, spend time on these characters too. When all your characters are 'alive' in your story, everything else becomes more believable.
How Do You Develop Characters That Will Stand Out?
Developing relatable and fascinating characters is a process, but it doesn't have to be a challenging one! In fact, creating the characters in your story can be a lot of fun. Apart from the tips we have already discussed, here are more things to keep in mind:
- Use plenty of details when writing about your characters and the world around them.
- Create attention-grabbing dynamics between your characters and the environments they are in.
- Give your characters the right set of skills in relation to the story.
- Give your characters strong and realistic motives.
- Give each of your characters a distinct feature that sets them apart from the others.
The bottom line is to spend time building your characters so that they will fit into your story.
In Summary: Start Building Amazing Characters Now!
Character building is a crucial aspect of writing stories. In this article, you learned some incredible tips for developing your own characters. Not to mention the common mistakes to avoid.
Now, all you have to do is apply what you have learned to create the best possible characters for your story!
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