Characters make or break a story. If your reader cannot connect with and appreciate your characters, then they won’t care what happens to them. You can have the best plot in the world, but if your characters are weak, it just won’t work.
Creating strong characters can be tricky.
- You don’t want them to be one dimensional – caricatures or stereotypes are disappointing for readers
- They need to show growth
- Motivation needs to remain consistent and feel genuine, rather than forced.
- Their behaviors need to reflect their motivation
- Characters also need to work well together. They need to complement one another in just the right way so that there’s a conflict that can be reasonably resolved.
So how do you accomplish all of this?
Allow your characters to become real people to you.
A friend of mine Sandra Kerns actually interviews her characters. Sometimes their answers surprise her. It may sound a little kooky at first but Sandra’s characters are multi-dimensional, consistent, flawed, and work well with one another in terms of plot, motivation, and conflict. You don’t have to interview your characters. Find a method that works for you. Allow yourself to envision them as real people.
Become Your Character
Put yourself in your character’s shoes. Become them, just while you’re writing or you’ll freak out your friends and family. Ask yourself questions along the way. How would I react? Is this a reasonable reaction? Is it consistent? Why am I behaving this way? If you write in first person, this will be much easier to accomplish.
Learn about Archetypes
Archetypes are descriptions or definitions of common types of people or personalities. For example, “the bad boy” is an archetype as is the ‘Femme fatale.” Now you might think this would make your characters less interesting because they become predetermined cliché’s. Within each archetype there are sub-categories or archetypes. Learning and using this system can help you create rich characters. Check out my recent blog post on an archetype tool you can use.
Creating strong characters takes practice. Write short stories that help you develop your character. Journal as your character and use character development worksheets and tools to help you. A weak plot is forgivable if the character is strong and someone that your readers want to get to know.