Without good characters a story won’t be interesting, and without an interesting story you won’t get readers. Imagine your favourite book, and then imagine it without your favourite character; it doesn’t work, does it? You have to have a developed and realistic character for your story to really stand out, and that’s what we’re here to help you with.
To write a good character that’s enticing and believable you need to know as much about them as you do about yourself. This includes knowing about their childhood, their first kiss, that time they broke their leg playing hockey, everything. Even if you’re writing about an eighty year old man you need to know all these things about his life so you can really get him on the page. It sounds like a lot of effort, and it is, but it’s definitely worth it and could be the difference between a publishing contract and a forgotten manuscript.
So how can you get to know your character so well? It can be quite enjoyable to make up a back story for your character, and we think a great way to do it is just by answering a few questions. We often use the questions below with writers who are struggling with their characterisation, and it really helps them to develop their characters. Try answering them for your protagonist, and then maybe have another go at answering them for your antagonist.
- Describe what your character looks like
- What’s your characters earliest memory?
- Describe your characters childhood
- Describe the relationship your character had with their parents and siblings as a child
- Describe the relationship your character has with their parents and siblings now
- What does the character want from life? What is their ambition?
- What personality flaw(s) does the character have? Remember, no one is perfect. Your character will have at least one flaw.
- What is their greatest fear? Was this fear caused by anything in particular?
- What are people’s first impressions of this character?
- Write about their first love
- Write about a particularly important moment in your characters life. This can be anything, from a day at school to getting married.
- Write about a time when your character was unhappy
- Write about a time when your character was at their happiest
These questions could carry on forever, and the more you do the better your character will be when you get them on the page. Do this at the start whilst planning your novel, and then if you feel like you’re losing touch whilst writing you can look back at your answers or write more about different parts of your characters life.
Do you have anything else you like to know about your character before writing? Let us know what you write about in the comments below.