How To Write Characters For Creative Fiction

Writing characters

Effective character development is not absolutely essential. If you read Greek mythology, those characters are minimally developed. We hardly know anything about them they. Don’t stand out as individuals. Someone can create a great story without working too much on exactly who their characters are and make them resemble as much as they can, real life, breathing, walking human beings.

But there is a great percentage of a potential audience that is interested in what is called three-dimensional characters. So there is a character that is described as flat, or there is a character that is described as three-dimensional, and we could spend a lifetime studying psychology –  psychology, psychiatry and sociology, writing down everything that we overhear people say, looking at them, trying to figure out why they do what they do, and it’s a fascinating journey.

There is no end to that exploration and anyone who embarks on studying people, and who they are, and why their inner workings, and why they do what they do, will discover things that no one else has discovered. As writers improving our character portrayals, it is a fascinating journey. Put yourself in the place of the fiction writer: you’re sitting down, you’re making up a new character and you have your story,  and before you is a character not developed at all.

My Favorite Technique for Fleshing-Out a Character – Creative Writing

Cy Porter – Youtube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUKTTAfmnTk

Audio:

 

You have a name. You know what they’re going to do in the story. What can you do to bring that character from flat to three dimensional, besides, you know, brainstorming on their history, their family, their economic situation, their class, how they’re raised, how much money they have and their general opinions about the world – brainstorming on all those kind of things.

Here is a technique that I find just works magic on developing a character. I have this written down and I have it by my monitor. It is the difference between how they intentionally present themselves and how others see them. I found that when working this out, it is very different for each character that I work on.

How to create a character for a story

The reason I like using this technique is that it takes the vague problem of trying to flush out a three-dimensional character, to this puzzle that I can work out, and by working with this puzzle with each character, it really makes a lot of things fall into place. It flushes the character out and at the same time makes the character really fit in the story.

So I’ve learned when using this technique it is really helpful to decide ahead of time that we’re not we’re not going to stick with with the ideas that we brainstorm. Along these lines but they give us a stronger idea about who that character is. So if I try out the idea that the character dyes their hair, I may only be half into that idea but I’ll go ahead and brainstorm and write that down because it describes to me exactly what kind of character they are, in terms of how they would attempt to present themselves to others.

Here’s an example. I have a character who preys on other people, and not only that, her tactics, the way that that she does that, is to present herself as vulnerable. So the way that this describes is way that she intentionally presents herself. She presents herself as helpless but she wants to really make sure that others see her that way, and so she would present herself, make it much more obvious than most people would actually appear when they are in a situation where they’re helpless.

How to develop a character personalityBut they’re not intending to appear helpless, so this character will say and and do things that that are a little too obvious, or are a little, you know, for the characters in the story who read more into people, they definitely it would register with them. Maybe she’s just putting on an act. At the same time, it’s very important for her to get ready to to to take advantage of people in certain ways.

So I’m just going to make up some stuff, to give you an idea what I’m talking about, even though it isn’t what I’m actually doing with this character. She could have a gun hidden in her suitcase. The reader sees this but as you continue to present this character to the reader, there are, you know it, it seems like she sure does go out of her way to present herself as helpless, to a point where some of the readers will start to wonder about what her true intention is.

There’s a contradiction between those two. There’s a definite difference between these two. If you make a definite difference between how your character presents herself and who they actually are, making that difference distinct, there’s something about that that really appeals to the reader.

Exactly how you work out this formula really depends on the effect you want that character to have on the reader. In the example I gave I wanted to know if this is an antagonist, so I wanted to up the level of feeling of this character, you know, the potential harm to the protagonist. In real life we feel very engaged when we meet people and can notice the separation between the things they do to present themselves as a certain kind of person and we have evidence of who they really are.

The difference between these two compels us in society. This is one of those things that captures our attention and makes us interested in our socializing, and we can have the same effect with our characters.

In fiction creative choices, we can decide how artificial this presentation is or how authentic seeming it is. How obnoxious it is or how subtle it is. Everyone works on the social mask. Everyone develops their social identity that is kind of there on the surface of the deeper levels of who they are. There’s no escaping it and there’s nothing wrong about it either.

It’s just kind of another reality of being human. If you wear clothes, you’re putting on some kind of uniform. You’re putting on some kind of identity, and it it’s not a falsehood. You know, think about it. You know, if you’re going to go work in an office, you’ll put on office clothes. It’s a way of communicating with people, so that they know how to relate to you.

Creating characters bookIf you’re going to work in an art gallery, you’re going to wear clothes that are expressive, so that when you meet people, they get an idea about how are you, how they want to see, how you’re going to talk with them, what kind of things you and they are going to talk about, what kind of life you want to live, so there is a lot of necessity and sincerity in your your social mask.

But this is this is also something that plays into who we want to be and who we actually are, where we want to go, and and where we come from, and so this is one of those kernels of the human condition that can make for compelling characters.

As an exercise you can find one person each day or each week to journal about, and write down what are they intentionally doing, what are they consciously doing to present themselves in a certain way, and who is it that they want to define for the onlooker. Who they are, what title are they giving themselves, what what kind of character do they want to be treated as, and then from there creatively come up with things that are distinct that are definitely different.

If you’re ever concerned about your characters being too flat, try it with each of your characters. Only spend an hour on each character. Find your favorite character in your story and write down ‘how did they consciously present themselves?’ How does the world see them and make sure that you do it creatively.

Novel character development worksheet

Whatever first comes to your mind. It doesn’t have to be what you stay with, but it’ll trigger your creative thinking, and it’ll flush out your character. Remember – the goal is to find creative and fun ways to flush out your character. You don’t need to do an exhaustive study of each character and really give the character as much flushing out time for for the time that they actually appear in the story.

For four characters that she’ll want to say one thing, and then they’re gone. In the next, they can be totally flat characters. They can be ‘here is the baker’, ‘here is the the bus driver’ and move on from there. Now try to work with this technique in a way so that you’re having fun. Don’t make it such a big deal.

Just try it out. Say ‘ I’ll try this for 10 minutes and brainstorm’, and if you’re having fun, your reader will be more engaged in your writing in the long run, because if you’re having fun that means that you might discover a new interesting contrast between these two points of character.

Create a character for a book onlineYour reader will be interested in that contrast. Now I guarantee you, if you come up with with one of these that really works, well, the contrast between intended impression and actual impression it is going to be something that is going to give you a lot of power over how you can present that character, and and the way they’re going to react him in all the different situations that you put them, in so again this turns out to be a very effective tool.

An example – it could be how they feel they should act and how they actually want to act. It could be presenting themselves because of the social situations that there is about. People don’t just write what they say and do, and leave it in that. Fine, this is a lens through which to study them and find the formulas of their behavior.

This is a great way to look at the people around you, and you can really get an idea about about what the true trajectory of their life will be like. You can get a good sense of how they’ll react in different situations and really understand why they say things that could seem totally random otherwise.

So I hope this is helpful for your fiction writing. Please take the time to check out the story I’m working on at solonation.com and also vote to get me to make more of these tutorials, by hitting the like button. Leave a comment. Let the other viewers know if this triggered an idea that you thought is along the lines of what the video discussed.

How to create a character for a storyLeave a comment so that other viewers can read. Subscribe please. Tell other writers that you know about about these videos, if you find them helpful. I hope you’re writing goes very well and I hope you have a good day. This is a quick side note because as an artist, we can all use more motivation to get into doing our artwork.

However you’re going to spend your day today will send ripples into your future, so no matter what you’re doing recognize that you’re not just doing that activity in the moment, you’re also sending these ripples out about the way the rest of your life is going to be.

Through your action, you are determining what the rest of your life will be like, and if you have a great day, you send out only a few ripples but if you pile them up,if you do this on a daily basis you can continue to reinforce it and it has a greater and greater and greater effect that builds up.

Humans are the most the most highly adaptive animals. We are able to rapidly and very effectively adapt to any environment. The environment you’re at, the activity or engaged in, is a big part of your environment. When you sit down to do your artwork, you begin adapting to that activity, so in the future you’re going to find it easier to do artwork. You’re going to find yourself getting better and better at it.

Developing Great Characters – Cy Porter

How To Write Dialogue Between Two Characters

How to write dialogue

Page Contents

On the face of it, dialogue is pretty easy. It’s just the way characters talk to each other in a novel or movie. Pop the text in between quote marks using the correct punctuation and you’re done! Actually, it’s much more complex than that. Learning how to write dialogue between two characters is absolutely crucial to the success of your book or screenplay.

The author has the task of creating a conversation in fiction that seems to be realistic but isn’t at all like people communicate in real life. It gives the impression of effortlessly flowing and getting straight to the point, whereas in real life chats we ‘um’ and ‘ah’, repeat ourselves and often talk about nothing.

In fact, a huge part of our conversations just reflect the conventions of our culture and time. The paradox is that it doesn’t look real on the written page. In normal life, dialogue performs the function of communication. In a novel, dialogue should drive the story forward, help describe characters and provide emotion.

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How To Write Dialogue Between Two Characters & Keep It Real!

https://youtu.be/94XHCpmzNWc

Video Transcript;

Hello learning birds – this is Eric Buffington and this is our creative writing lesson on dialogue. We’re going to talk about what is dialogue, keeping a good balance of dialogue and action, and then making realistic dialogue.

So dialogue. When I talk about dialogue I’m going to be talking about when characters are speaking or communicating with each other. When a new person speaks you need to begin a new paragraph and you need to indicate what they’re saying using quotation marks.

So I’m going to show you a bit of dialogue from JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and you’ll be able to see this in action. Here’s the example of dialogue:

I was coming over the mountains with a friend or two.
“I can only see one and a little one at that,” said Bjorn.
“Well, to tell you the truth, I did not like to bother you with a lot of us until I found out if you were busy. I will give a call if I may?”
“Go on. Call away.”

What Is Dialogue Between Two Characters?

So you can see, with each time a person speaking, you get a new paragraph and that’s helpful. It helps us to keep it differentiated who’s speaking and then what they’re saying is inside of those quotation marks.

How to write dialogue between two characters tips for beginnersWhen you are writing dialogue between two characters you want to keep a good balance. If you just have dialogue for a long time, without anything else, the reader is left very confused, not knowing what’s happening or the tone of what they’re saying or anything about the dialogue at all.

On the other end of things, if you have too much action between the dialogue pieces, the reader will have a hard time remembering what’s being said. Let me show you what I’m talking abou. Here’s an example with too much dialogue:

How To Write Dialogue Between Two Characters Example

“Do you like fish?”
“Yes I do!”
“That’s wonderful. What’s your favorite kind?”
“I like goldfish.”
“That’s gross.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“I like you, you’re funny.”
“I think I’m starting to like you too. It tingles when you hold my hand.”

Like, that this is totally confusing and terribly written it. Yeah, it’s just horrible. The reader wouldn’t have any idea what’s going on if you only have dialogue. It’s made even worse if you have more than two characters speaking back and forth. It’s harder to follow.

You need to have those action and tone and what they’re doing how, they’re saying it all, in between there to make it make sense. Here’s our other bad example of too much action:

“Do you like fish?,” John asked as he looked out over the big blue ocean. It had been years since he was last on the shores of this beautiful island and he felt a mix of joy at returning, and sadness that he had been away for so long. He lowered his head and took a deep breath, then turned back to pulling on the rope that moved their boat slowly to the shore. “Yes,” she replied.

So obviously by the time you get her answer you’ve almost forgotten what the question is because there’s so much happening. This is an extreme example but you can see the principle here. You want to have a balance of not too much action and not too much dialogue.

How To Write Dialogue Between Two Characters In A Book

Another note about dialogue is that you need to keep it real. Read the dialogue out loud. Perhaps have a friend read one part as you read another part. See if it makes sense. Is that the way that a real conversation would go? Would it logically go from one thing to the next?

How to write dialogue in a narrative guide

And also note that different people speak differently. Some people have accents. Some people have different idioms that they use or words that they use differently. Try and incorporate that into your writing and it will help to enhance your writing style. Let’s take a look at this and see if it’s realistic or not:

“Hello, Jill,” Jack said with his head hanging down.
“Hi,” she responded.
“I’ve had a really bad day. My mom ran out of water and I need someone to go up that hill there to fetch it with me.”

Is this realistic? Not really. Why is this not realistic? We’ve got that “hi,” she responded. She’s not caring about how he’s reacting and what she said would never lead a friend to ask telling about a bad day. So let’s change her dialogue a little bit, so that it’s a little more realistic.

“Hello, Jill,” Jack said, with his head down.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, voice filled with concern.
“I’ve had a really bad day. My mom ran out of water and I need someone to go up that hill there to fetch it with me.”

How To Write Good Dialogue Between Two Characters

 

Now we have dialogue that flows a little bit more. It makes more sense and it goes from one thing logically to the next. One final example here, where I tried to show a balance of action and dialogue:

“Kaz Kinsley, I know you’re up there.” Kaz casually sat at the side of the roof dangling his legs over the edge.
“Kaz, what are you doing?” Fenn asked in an angry yet hushed tone. “My heart is about to pound out of my chest.”
With a smirk Kaz responded, “That’s what all the girls in the village say about me.”
“You wish,” Fenn retorted, ” The only time you make hearts beat is when they’re running to get away from you.”

So this is dialogue that is obviously between a young man who’s sitting up on a roof of a building and a young girl that he actually threw something down at her and scared her. So you can see that there’s a little bit of action mixed with the dialogue that keeps it realistic, keeps it flowing and it’s a conversation that you can actually see happening.

So remember when you’re working with dialogue to keep it balanced, keep it real, and have a wonderful day.

How to write dialogue between two characters PDF

Examples Of Dialogue Between Two Characters – Another Perspective

https://youtu.be/nLb-yav00hE

Video Transcript;

“You see that? I just stood there.” That was dialogue and that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. So some of you might have some difficulty with making your dialogue sound perfect to you and it might sound choppy or boring or just lack-luster.

So today I’m gonna give you some tips on how to make your dialogue awesome. First of all let’s just talk about the point of dialogue. Why is dialogue even necessary in a story? I think the most important thing that it does is to show the relationship between two of your characters rather than just tell it.

Conversation between two charactersBut dialogue also has another very important role – to move the story forward. But wait, that’s what narrative’s for, right? Yes, but if we’re studying for a test, we don’t just read the book once and then expect to get a good grade. We watch videos online, or we read articles.

We make flashcards of all of these pieces work, symbiotically that looks really weird, to make sure you get a good grade on your test. Together dialogue and narrative can make your story shine. Think of it this way; your characters and your plot, you’re setting, are all paths and your dialogue in your narrative is a vehicle.

Your dialogue helps to add some tension, reveals the personality of some of your characters and can reveal some pertinent information. If your dialogue just isn’t doing any of these, then you should totally watch the rest of my video because we’ve got some tips for you, like 9 in total.

Alright, so first up we’re gonna talk about those imperfect characters. You know, everyone’s got one in their family. Ah just kidding. That’s not what I’m talking about. You should have a ton of imperfect characters in your writing because guess what, we’re all imperfect.

I, for instance, can’t seem to fold laundry. It’s just not in my repertoire of zombie apocalypse knowledge because, let’s be honest, that’s all I seem to know these days. And you know of course, writing real talk. Onto the tip.

How Should You Format A Dialogue Between Two Characters?

Tip number one – relationships matter. Do you talk to your significant other the same way that you talk to your grandmother? I would hope not. Most of us tend to change up our language, depending on who we’re talking to. You might get more respect to a professor, speak to them a little more formally than you would your best friend.

This is a part of getting to know your characters really well. How would they interact with one another can be a fun thing. Would one take the lead in a conversation, while the others follow? Or would one take the lead and then butt heads with another one.

Some personality types just don’t play well together and you need to welcome the idea of relationships influencing the way that your characters speak to one another because, let’s face it, we all do it. Ergo, your characters should do it.

How To Make A Dialogue Between Two Characters

Tip number two – give your characters a unique voice. We all have one, give them one too. If you’re a young adult reader like myself you might have read the beautiful creatures series. In it there’s a character named Blanc that is unlike any other character.

This is best seen through his dialogue. He uses no words that any other character were to use and he delivers them in a unique way. So without any dialogue tags or action tags you always know that it’s linked speaking. That’s what you want. You should totally try to do that.

We all have favorite words that we like to use or our own form of expletives when we stub our toe. Make a list of these things for each one of your characters. When you get stuck in their dialogue, you can just refer back to it for inspiration.

Tip number three – people aren’t perfect and neither is their dialogue. Have you ever watched a movie and you realize that the actors are delivering their lines a little too quickly? If you’ve been in drama you know what I’m talking about it. Sounds like they’re just waiting for the other actor to finish their lines so that they can dive into theirs.

How to write dialogue between two characters examplesEveryone needs time to think of a response and without it a conversation just doesn’t feel organic anymore. Writing dialogue is the same. Give your character some time to think every now and then. They’re arguing with another character, have them stammer and then slam something in frustration.

No one knows their lines ahead of time, so make sure your characters don’t either. Make their dialogue perfectly imperfect because that’s what it means to be human. And unless you have an alien race, you want your characters to sound human right? All right, on to some of the more technical stuff.

Tip number four – summaries can be a good thing sometimes. It’s easier to sum up the boring parts of conversation or to characters. Saying ‘hello’ to each other – don’t put it in dialogue, unless there’s something else going on there. You would have to force this type of dialogue to be interesting though.

So sometimes it’s a little better left to narrative, if you still really want to make it interesting. Here’s some examples. A meeting between two teenagers who both really like each other and they’re both nervous. One of them starts stuttering and then the other one thinks it’s cute.

Or a greeting between two people who can’t speak the same language. There’s some pretty obvious difficulties there. That would be good to point out in dialogue. How do you know when to put your dialogue into summary, though it’s nothing exciting really happening but you don’t want to cut that piece of dialogue. Is there back and forth between two characters that would give the reader whiplash? Try putting dialogue into summaries and seeing if it flows better.

Tip number five – tag, you’re it. I like to use deep point-of-view most of the time during my writing and one thing to avoid while doing so is dialog tags. I try my hardest to avoid dialog tags at all costs instead using action to show which character is speaking.

How to write a conversation between two characters guideYou do this so that the readers never pulled out of the story and you kind of become like the invisible author but sometimes this can have the opposite effect. Using an action might become what pulls the reader out of the story, if the wording is weird or just sticks out in a bad way.

In this case please use your tags responsibly. Don’t use redundant tags. Saying someone grunted after an “Oh” isn’t necessary. Don’t use tags that don’t make sense. People don’t sigh words, or gasp words. A physical non-speech related action should never be your dialogue tag.

Don’t be afraid to use ‘said’. Yes it’s simple but guess what? If you really need a dialogue tag ‘said’ blends in pretty well to your narrative. We’ve read so many books throughout our lives that ‘said’ has become more like ‘it’. We may read it 200 times in a chapter but we don’t realize it.

Tip number six – name drops. I am so guilty of this. When you’re talking to your best friend how often do you use their name? I can say that I never do. I say ‘girl’ before I say her name: “Girl, guess what happened”, so it would make sense if your characters that name drop with one another right?

Yes but I still find myself doing it all the time. Why? I think because sometimes I want to make it clear who’s speaking. In that case I go back and make sure my action tags are very clear. If I’m trying to add some drama to the scene by name dropping, I make sure I haven’t name drop, the same name in a while. If you do it a lot it gets a little less dramatic. Like okay, let’s be honest – a lot less. The next topic is all about editing.

Dialogue Writing and More - Teachable Course Bundle

Tip number seven – remove the drab, cut it, all of it. Oh but not really. If you’re in the editing phase of your novel it’s time to spruce up your dialogue a little bit.

If you started a conversation between two people on the phone and you included all of the ‘hey how you doin’ and the ‘oh great, how’s the kids?’ stuff. then your readers probably gonna drop the book and run at stops. Boring, yes it may be how people talk in real life but you don’t include boring action into your novel do you?

I’m sorry but the same rule applies to boring dialogue. We’re just better off without it. Another drabaass thing to cut is information two characters wouldn’t really say to one another. These are things that are usually just for the benefit of the reader and are really not beneficial to anybody.

How to write dialogue in a script tips

If two characters know that eating myrrh berries makes you go to sleep for ages, don’t have them explain that to one another. They know. Instead, show someone’s flipping some to another character as a practical joke. the myrrh berries knock that character out and then you’re spared that awkward moment when point directly at your reader and explain things to them. Note – if no character in your novel has heard of myrrh berries but one has them, obviously makes sense to them to explain them.

Tip number eight – have someone read your story out loud. You might have heard that you should read your work out loud but for dialogue it’s particularly helpful if you actually have something else read it out loud.

You already know how the dialogue is supposed to sound, so sometimes you’ll just make it sound that way even if it doesn’t. Grab whoever you can grab and bribe them in whatever ways you need to so that you can get them to do this. Tell them to be goofy and to have fun with acting out the words.

Even if they read the dialogue without any embellishments, you’ll be able to see what words they place importance on. If they get stuck on a certain sentence and have to start over, mark that sentence down. Sometimes that means your wording sounds awkward.

Also try to listen for the balance between narrative and dialogue, any sentences that don’t sound realistic and choppy dialogue. This last one sometimes means that your characters unique voices aren’t coming through or the dialogue simply isn’t needed.

Tip number nine is a lot of tips and they’re all about grammar. Yay, grammar rules, at least I hope you think it does. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty here. I promise it’ll only take a minute.

When a new character starts to speak start a new line for them. We don’t want the reader to get confused. We stitch two lines of dialogue together. There’s no mad scientist Frankenstein dialogues allowed here. Punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks.

I remembered that my teachers always told me that the punctuation would fall off into this never-ending black hole of doom and I just never wanted that for my punctuation. Be kind and keep them from falling for eternity.

The UK uses single quotes for their dialogue, the US only uses single quotes. When we’re quoting something inside of something that’s already a quote, it’s quotation inception in your dialogue with a comma. If you’re using a dialogue tag, or with a full stop, like a period or an ellipsis for an exclamation mark. If you’re going to use an action tag, if someone’s cutting someone else off, you need to make sure you use an em-dash where they’re getting cut off.

And then again, if they resume their thought. For an example of that, make sure you check out my blog post on this topic down below. Alright, so that’s all I have for you guys today. I hope you found this video oh so helpful.

If you have any tips or tricks of your own for dialogue, make sure you put them in the comment section below so other people can see them. Be sure to subscribe to my channel because I post new writing videos every Wednesday. If you have any questions or suggestions be sure to tweet me at Vivian Reese.

How To Write Dialogue Between Two Characters

#characters #dialogue #writing #book #novel

How To Create Characters For A Novel – How To Write A Character Analysis

Writer's Digest Course Link - How To Write Novel CharactersHi, I’m Rebecca Balcarcel. I can help you write a character analysis. First you need to choose which character your gonna analyze. I suggest you choose a character who changes.

If you have to write about FINDING NEMO, the Walt Disney story, you might be tempted to choose Nemo, because, after all, the title has his name in it. He must be the main character. But really, the character who changes the most and who really goes on a journey is the father, Marlin. So he’s the character best suited for a character analysis.

So number one: Choose a character who changes. Alright, now that you’ve chosen which character to analyze. You’re going to have to think of inferences. Let me give you an example of what I mean by that. Here’s some… Here’s an inference down here, but let me start with this:

Fact: Marlin hovers. We know, if you’ve watched this film, that Marlin is the dad and he hovers over his son, and doesn’t want to let him be independent and try new things or take any risks. But the fact that he does this is something that the film already tells you, so that doesn’t require much thinking on your part.

what is a character analysis for?You haven’t actually drawn a conclusion from that yet. That just makes it just a plain old fact. What you need is to infer something. That means you need to draw a conclusion of your own. You have lots of facts about Marlin: what he does and what he says and what he thinks and how he reacts to situations.

And those are the facts that will help you write the essay, but you need to draw some conclusions from those facts. You need to infer what’s really going on with Marlin. What’s driving him? What are his motivations?

Explain his psychology. If he were to sit down and talk to Dr. Phill, or some therapist, what would we discover about Marlin’s history, about the way he approaches life, and how does that change over the course of the film? That’s what a character analysis explores.

The facts are the evidence that you’re going to use, as you make a case for your interpretation of this character. But the facts are not the main thrust of the character analysis. Now let’s look at something else that you don’t want to include in your character analysis.

https://youtu.be/PxgOIP6USxc

More importantly, how can you ensure your character has a distinct one? As always, let’s start with the basics. At its core, character voice is simply a distinct personality–when a character is so three-dimensional that they practically lift off of the page.

They have unique and sometimes conflicting desires and goals and a backstory that drives all of that. Think of a friend, a family member, a relative who in any situation can make you laugh. Now let’s dig deeper. Why is that? Is it the timing of their comments? Is it the delivery?

how to create good characters for a novel bookOr is it perhaps the distinctive arrangement of words where they say things in such a way that always surprises you? Character voice can often best be portrayed in dialogue. Think about the words the character chooses. Do they have a specific dialect or an accent?

Look at the mechanics of their sentence structure. Is the character educated and maybe they speak in long flowing sentences? Or do they not have an education and therefore speak in shorter clip sentences? For their personality, are they optimistic, pessimistic, narcissistic–all the istics– that would impact the way that they say things or the delivery of how these things are said?

Show these things in the words that they say as well as when they choose to speak. Say your character is facing conflict, maybe that character gets really chatty when they are nervous or maybe the character clams up and doesn’t want to speak when they’re facing conflict. But voice isn’t just the words that your characters utter, it’s also the narrative.

In my opinion, it is way easier to convey voice in dialogue. The narrative is where things can be tricky and decidedly more difficult. But let’s see if I can shine some light on this nebulous topic. Like people, characters should have their own distinct personalities.

how to create good characters for a novelTo do this, the first step is to avoid archetypes. I have a definition from Literary Devices that defines archetype as: The second step is to create a backstory for your character. If they’re important enough to have a name, then the reader needs to know what motivates that character to do anything.

Does that character have a hardship in their past that prevents them from opening up easily? Or perhaps to that same hardship makes the characters seek out love wherever they could get it. For both dialogue and narrative, word choice is key.

As I mentioned before, is your character educated? That would impact the structure of your sentences as well as the vocabulary that you use in those sentences. If they never had a formal education, maybe they speak in contractions and sentence fragments.

Where did your character grow up? The culture or region that they grew up in will impact their choice of words as well as how they see the world. How old is your character? If they’re very young, they might not have an extensive vocabulary yet. In addition, maybe that childhood curiosity might come into play. Is your character confident or shy?

Do they have any unique quirks or mannerisms? All of these things will contribute to what a character says internally or externally. The character’s personality, history, and vocation could also then tie into not just how they see the world but perhaps the metaphors and similes that you use.

 

how to create characters for novel tips

 

A farmer, for example, might compare the blonde hair of the woman he loves to the stalks of wheat that he tends to. While a reclusive shepherd who dislikes children might compare them to disobedient members of his flock. When writing metaphors and similes, consider carefully a character’s knowledge and experience as well as how the two impact the characters life experience that they relate to.

Of course, thoughts and words aren’t the only thing that portray a character’s voice. Actions and reactions are a great way to convey personality. A hero, for example, might say that they don’t want to get involved in a conflict when their friend repeatedly asks them to.

how to create characters for a novelBut when that same friend gets into trouble when addressing the conflict, the hero might then jump into the fray to help their friend. That action conveys loyalty, which might be an integral part of that specific character. Mannerisms and physical descriptions can also help to characterize your protagonists and other characters.

If your character is a drunk, perhaps they slur their speech. If the character suffers from anxiety show how they might shy away from conflict or how they might tremble or have an anxiety attack or how they just interact with things that make them anxious.

For things like slurring or a character movement, these can be used in place of dialogue tags, which are “he said”/”she said.” For example, how a character holds themself when speaking (slouching/ standing up straight) that can convey what a character is feeling about a given situation, and how they’re feeling might then touch on their personality.

Next, give your character flaws. It is not fun for readers to follow around a perfect character who has everything that they desire. If your character has been cheated on in the past, maybe they are bitter or cynical.

Throughout the book, we can watch this character’s emotional arc as perhaps they come to terms with their scars or their emotional wounds, and maybe they fall in love at the end or make new friends. These are just a few of the ways to give your character a distinct voice.

types of characters in a novelRemember, every character that is named should have a unique voice that conveys his or her personality through showing and not telling. I’ll leave a link in the description below for my article as well as my video on how to show and not tell in your writing. But showing a character’s personality can be done through things like word choice, metaphors and similes, and so on.

Conveying distinct voice really comes down to one thing: showing the unique personality of your character in the way that they view and interact with the world. Thanks for tuning into this episode of iWriterly, how to give your character voice.

I’m your host Meg LaTorre, and if you liked what you saw, subscribe, like, comment–let me know what you want to hear about next time. As always, keep writing! Well, maybe they don’t have an elaborate elleg–ellegication. I don’t have an elaborate ellegication. Or, is it… the… dis… Or… Stop smirking. I see you smirking. Show these things in the words as… Oh gosh.

How To Give Your Novel Characters A Voice PDF

How To Write Characters - Writer's Workshop Link - ceative course online - novel writing

How To Properly Write Dialogue In A Story

how to properly write dialogue in a storyWe all love that punchy dialogue delivered so slickly from the pages of Grisham or Ludlum. It seems so effortless, but is it? How to properly write dialogue in a story is absolutely essential to a successful author, and can make all the difference between success and failure.

Of course, we should talk about the mechanics of writing dialogue. How it looks and how it’s punctuated. After that, the two videos below get into the creative aspects, how to make dialogue realistic, etc.

First of all, there are at least three different standards, depending upon where you live in the world. In USA, every word that a character speaks is enclosed in one apostrophe (‘) – make sense, huh?

I’m tellin’ you – this is how you mark dialogue in the States, bub.’

If you are in UK, and a few other countries following those literary standards, you may see markers at the beginning and end of dialogue looking like this – (‘”), a double apostrophe, also known as speech mark in UK.

I say, I wouldn’t dream of using anything else for dialogue. God Save the Queen!”

In some European countries, such as France, dialogue is simple started with a, em-dash (—).

— Vive La France!

In Portugal, for example, you will this:

<<Bom dia Signora!>>

Let’s stick with America – other punctuation marks, such as a question or exclamation, go inside the speech marks, before you close the dialogue.

‘How the hell was I supposed to know?’

If someone interrupts another character’s dialogue, the em-dash is used again:

‘Pass me that—‘

‘Who gave you the right to take over?’

If a character doesn’t finish a dialogue, either he  is lost for words, or it doesn’t need saying, we use three dots:

‘Speak of the Devil …’

These basic rules of how to punctuate dialogue will get you through most situations. Now on to the creative aspects. the two videos below give slightly different points of view about writing effective and convincing dialogue.

https://youtu.be/wAj1hAGc3zs

Good evening everyone. My name is Robert Wiersema, and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better backdrop. I’ve spent the last 42 years of my life, through a process of slow diligence and happy accidents, creating a life surrounded by books.

I write them. I talk about them. I review them. I sell them. It’s the life I always dreamed of and I couldn’t be happier. What surprised me though, one thing that I had overlooked when I was dreaming of the life that I’m now living, is how happy teaching makes me.

I’ve been teaching creative writing, introductory creative writing, for the last couple of years and it’s one of the most fulfilling things that I do. It’s not without its problems though. One of the hardest things to teach in a first-year creative writing class is dialogue.

how do you write a dialogueNow, it’s difficult for two reasons. The first is that dialogue is the hardest thing to write so it’s the hardest thing to teach. I mean, dialogue. Well okay, endings are hard too, and beginnings, and sex scenes are really difficult.

Ok, dialogue is one of the most difficult things to write, so it’s one of those difficult things to teach. The other aspect of it, though, is that it seems like it should be so easy. We all talk. I mean in our culture we’re talking from the moment our eyes open in the morning till they close at night.

We don’t shut up, so it should be easy right? It’s not, so I have four rules or maxims or guidelines when teaching dialogue. I just want to run through them with you tonight. The first one picks up on that idea that it should be easy, that we we all do it.

Well, no, because rule number one: Dialogue is not conversation. When I’m talking about conversation, especially in this room, I’m not talking about large C conversation, I’m talking about small c conversation.

I’m talking about the conversations you have at work in the morning, before you start work or with a friend that you meet in line at the coffee shop.

‘Hey, Bob. How was your weekend?’
‘Not bad, no. How was yours?’

how do you write dialogue in a short storyThat’s conversation but it’s not dialogue. What I advise my students to do if they’re confused about the distinction, is they should record themselves. Take a little recorder and just put it on the table in front of you while you’re talking with friends.

Then go home and transcribe even five minutes of it. Transcribe every word and then compare what you’ve got there with, I don’t know, a passage from Elmore Leonard. You will very quickly see the difference between conversation and dialogue. They’re not the same at all.

Rule number two: The corollary to the first – dialogue is not monologue. It’s right there in the name people. Dialogue is not monologue. It involves more than one person and you know when you get to it in a book. You know it when you’re amongst friends, that some people talk in pages and pages.

That’s not dialogue. Remember the movie The Incredibles, where the super-villains would always monologue at the end and that would give the chance for the heroes to get the jump on them. As in every James Bond movie you’ve ever seen, every bad book you’ve ever read. That’s the rule of no monologuing. We’re talking about dialogue here.

how to write great dialogue for a novel

The third rule, and this is a toughy: Dialogue is focused but not forced. There’s a distinction. Dialogue needs to develop around common ideas. You don’t want ideas spewing out everywhere. It needs to be it needs to be controlled but it shouldn’t be forced either.

It should be an interplay. It should be a bit of a dance. You want ideas to come out. You want points to come out. You don’t want them hammered home. Think of that great scene in Pulp Fiction where the two guys are in the car and all they’re talking about different names for hamburgers.

how to write dialogue in storiesIn Europe, the Royale with cheese, scene I mean. That’s great dialogue. It doesn’t really add anything to the movie but you know Quentin Tarantino loves to hear himself talk when it’s coming out of the faces of beautiful actors so it fits.

It’s a great chunk of dialogue. It’s focused but unforced. Finally and most crucially, dialogue is interactive. It’s not one person talking and the other person listening. It’s a process of exchanging ideas. It’s a process of building on ideas, of creating meaning between the speakers.

The magic of dialogue doesn’t happen in one person’s voice or the other person’s voice. It’s the totality of it. It’s the scene. it’s the meaning that comes about through that dance of ideas.

So those are the four rules of dialogue. Just to just to refresh your memory: Dialogue is not conversation. It’s not monologue. It’s focused but not forced, and finally, it’s interactive. Now with those four points you can craft fantastic dialogue on the page.

It’ll leap off, and if you follow those four points it will leap off the page. How different would our lives be if a parent talking to a child didn’t monologue. How different would our lives be if our politicians, rather than delivering speeches, interacted and genuinely exchanged ideas. How different with the world be if we all followed four simple rules.

https://youtu.be/kNWJraczkyg

Writer's Workshop Link - how to write good dialogue in a novel

 

 

Hello everybody. A lot of writers come to me with their writing woes ,and all the complaints I hear about, the one that comes up the most is the dialogue. You people hate writing dialogue.

It never comes across and, naturally, it rambles on and on. You don’t know what your characters would say. As for me, I really like writing dialogue. I love building characters, analyzing their personalities, creating connections and obviously dialogue is a great way to do all these things.

how to write dialogueSo I’m going to give you some tips for creating natural dialogue that’s enjoyable to read. All this stuff I’m about to say is stuff that I do in my own personal writing process and I’m pretty damn good at dialogue.

The first step is to get to know your characters. This is the work that needs to be done before you start writing the dialogue. You need to know your characters fully before you start writing for them.

Basically, if your characters don’t feel like real people ,you’re gonna have a really hard time writing their dialogue. It sounds like some foofy but hear me out. Think of the people you know really well in real life – a mom, a sibling, a significant other.

If I asked you how would they respond to a difficult situation, or what would they say if they were really excited, you’d be able to answer that, right? Not only that, you’d probably be able to give a really specific answer almost immediately. If you know your characters just as well as you know your family or friends, then their dialogue should come to you just as quickly.

The second step is to give your dialogue purpose. Typically, dialogue serves one of two purposes. Either you’re trying to build a character or you’re trying to move the plot along. Usually; dialogue should be a little bit of both. You want your dialogue to show the readers what your characters are about.

Are they happy, cynical, brooding? Obviously, your characters should be discussing what’s relevant to the plot or subplots. If neither of these elements are addressed, then your dialogue is useless, which brings me to my third point.

Avoid meaningless conversation. Here’s what I’m talking about:

‘Hi!’
‘Hi. How are you?’
‘I’m fine. You?’
‘I’m good. How was work?’
‘Same old, same old.’

how to write interruptions in dialogueNow this whole conversation is pretty standard. We’ve all had exchanges like this probably on a daily basis, so it’s normal for writers to want to include it. But here’s the thing – it’s boring.

No one cares about any of that. If you imagine your character is having an exchange like this just add a bit of narrative explaining that the exchange went down. Then you can dive into the dialogue that readers really care about.

Now there is an exception to this rule? As always, meaningless conversation is okay if it’s not actually meaningless. You can include dialogue that doesn’t serve a purpose if the way it’s spoken or the tone of voice is loaded.

The words themselves offer pretty much no value, but the way in which they’re spoken could be super important to the story. Someone’s pissed the off and kind of passive-aggressive. So long as you communicate the feeling of the moment, basic dialog won’t read as meaningless.

The next rule to follow is to give each character a distinct voice. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but not all US human folk talk the same way. You’d think that wasn’t common knowledge based on some of the books I’ve read.

The same robotic voice all spoken, with perfect grammar. You need to make sure that all of your characters speak differently and in a way that’s reflective of who they are and what they’ve been through.

how to write dialogue writing

I’m not saying each character needs to have a unique accent or a catchphrase, but our personality and life experience plays a role in how we communicate with others. Think about whether or not your characters would be emotional, or cuss, or use slang, or be polite .

All of this crap varies from person to person. On a related note, the next rule of writing dialogue is to keep time and setting appropriate. Sometimes, writers think they’re writing appropriately for a character and they’re not.

I’ve seen middle-aged writers add hip dialogues for their teenage characters and maybe that would have been hip dialogue when they were teenagers, but certainly not today. I’ve read books where the characters were supposed to be speaking in Old English, but the dialogue sounded more like Siri Old English.

Does not mean that you cannot use contractions and that you must type like a robot writers. If you don’t know about something, research it, because if you don’t know what you’re doing the dialogue is gonna read as inauthentic and unbelievable.

how to write dialogue in fiction

The fifth rule for writing dialogue : Make sure it flows. This is actually sort of counter-intuitive because conversations in real life don’t always flow. Real dialogue can be disjointed or go off on tangents or someone can interrupt in the middle. These are things you should typically avoid.

You want a majority of conversations to run smoothly because then it’ll be much easier for the reader to understand what’s going on. It might not be a hundred percent true to real life but it’ll enhance the entertainment level of your novel.

Now there is a trick to writing smooth, seamless dialogue – write in the dialogue first with zero narrative. Don’t write any of the ‘he said’, ‘she gasped’, ‘he wrinkled his nose’, she grabbed his hand. Skip that crap. This will help you focus solely on the words being spoken because sometimes adding the narrative can be distracting.

If you have a lot of people talking, you can even color code the dialogue. That way you can track how many times each person is contributing to the conversation so you don’t inadvertently exclude anyone.

Bottom line: Write out the entire conversation dialogue. Only you’re done, you can go through it. Make sure it’s nice and pretty, and then add in all that super awesome narrative which brings us to my next rule:

Don’t just write what your character said. Show how they said it. It’s extremely important to illustrate the emotion behind whatever conversations going on. Whenever you’re conveying emotion in writing, it’s always best to show not tell.

What’s the easiest way to do this? Body language. If your character is super crazy mad, maybe he’s clenching his fists or grinding his teeth, or a veins bulging from his back. If another character is super surprised or scared, maybe his eyes widened, his face drained of color, he flinched or his mouth gaped open.

These all communicate emotion in a visual way that a reader is going to be more apt to connect to. Now it’s also important to know when to hold off on these nuances. If you’re trying to write a really fast-paced scene, like quick witty banter, or a heated shouting match, then these notes should only be added when necessary.

Like when an important action occurs or to clarify who’s speaking. If a conversation is really firing off, then excessive narrative will slow it down. But other than these exceptions, painting a picture of what a character is doing or how they’re speaking will really transform basic dialogue into an engaging conversation.

Here is my last rule for writing dialogue: Outline the conversation ahead of time. I know you’ve already outlined the entire book, right, but if you’re gonna be writing an especially long conversation, or you want to cover a lot of points, make yourself a little flow chart.

That way, you won’t forget any points and be forced to awkwardly add them in somewhere at the end. Even if you don’t know exactly what’s going to be said, a flow chart should help guide you in the right direction.

You should already know what you’re trying to accomplish with your dialogue. Maybe you’re trying to build a connection between two characters or share pivotal plot points with the reader. Outline these points in the order in which you want them to occur and then follow your outline while you’re writing.

These are my rules for writing dialogue. This is all stuff that I do whenever I write dialogue and it’s made the process super seamless. I encourage you to implement these steps into your own writing and let me know what you think.

How to properly write dialogue in a story – Video Transcripts PDF Download

how to write a dialogue in a story - course link

What Is The Character Arc In A Novel?

How To Write A Novel Character ArcLike the Story Arc, the Character Arc is an evolution, with a stated beginning and an end that coincides with the story ending to provide a satisfactory conclusion for the reader. In all my research about writing, I don’t have a satisfying reason why this character change process should be called an ‘Arc’.

When considering the Story Arc, the Rising Action phase is often represented as an uphill slope, or rounded arc. I can see this, but it’s not clear why the Character Arc should be depicted in this way.

The simplest way to define it is by saying it describes the internal change that the main character(s) go through as the story develops. Indeed, the success of the hero’s quest actually depends on the these changes.

What Is The Character Arc In Relation To the Story Arc?

The story arc is carefully designed to build intrigue and tension in the reader by introducing conflictual challenge involving the protagonist. Often (but not always), these challenges come from the antagonist and are intended to block the hero from reaching his goal.

The hero has two major goals in a novel – an external one expressed in the story arc, and an internal one, where her or she has to correct their own personality flaws in order to succeed. Can you see how the two arcs are not only related, but a symbiotic part of each other?

The strongest stories have carefully designed arcs that depend upon each other, if the story is to grab the readers. They identify with the hero and want to know what happens to him. If this is to work, then this main character must be likable. Of course, to maximize tension, the villain must be absolutely evil and nasty!

Not Every Character In The Story Gets An Arc

Defining the character's arcThere are two broad categories of characters in any novel or story; main (complex or three-dimensional) and support (flat and two-dimensional). The most complex personality in the whole bunch will surely be the hero or heroes.

These guys are going to be changing internally a lot, so their traits have to be well-detailed and thought out to the finest detail. These complex characters are often called three-dimensional, indicating that they have a depth.

On the other hand, support characters come in different flavors. The hero may have a partner who acts as a foil to accentuate the hero’s brilliance. Although this partner may be of less value in terms of telling the story, he may also have a character arc and undergo emotional changes as the novel unfolds.

Much lesser characters are flat and strictly two-dimensional. We have no indication of their lives or personalities. They are a swiftly painted generalizations rather than people. So who they, these shadowy characters that come and go, and what are they there for?

Examples are the taxi driver taking the hero to an address, the postman delivering an important letter, a beggar the villain kicks out of the way. We know nothing about them, their suffering or problems, except that they are there to assist in driving the plot forward by supporting the actions, reactions of the main characters, or play a part in the events involving them.

A villain may well be a complex character, but may not (and usually doesn’t) display any of the internal changes indicating a character arc. His or her evil may stem from a complex family or social background, and it would assist the story greatly if the reader was aware of this.

In this way the reader can partially understand the forces making this character evil, even if they can’t relate to it. Normally though, evil stays evil and doesn’t change for the better – a golden rule of great fiction!

Writing Character A ArcIs A Character Arc Absolutely Necessary In All Stories?

Good point, audience. No, it isn’t, but it’s hugely satisfying when used and done well. An example of a very popular antagonist who undergoes almost no internal changes during the story is James Bond. The Bond novels are strictly plot driven and his character traits are set in stone.

Other heroes come to mind, such as Indiana Jones, but in the last story his father shows him that there are more important things than chasing archaeological artifacts all over the planet.

This is a huge internal change in Jones’ perspective so is obviously a manifestation of his character arc. It’s a fundamental life-change that cannot be undone, a realization that his views in his previous life were wrong, or at least off-target.

This is the key to defining character arc. It is essential that the hero corrects his flawed personality traits as the story unfolds, and in correcting them, he gathers the fortitude and insight that allows him to overcome the villain. The villain may be the main character’s biggest fear, an arch-criminal set on destroying the world, or catastrophic climate change, but the hero’s internal changes will defeat it.

How To Create Complex Characters

The key to complexity is depth, an element encapsulated by the term ‘three-dimensional character’. It just isn’t enough to know that our hero is six feet four, with a beard, and immensely strong. It could be anybody, and anybody won’t do for our novel. We need someone extraordinary for sure, but what fun is a superman?

Creating Character Arcs

A real human being isn’t all good or infallible. Naturally he has great potential and an array of skills, some of which he can’t apply effectively because his personality flaws – negative aspects of his personality that inhibit him or her. These flaws need to be explore and described thoroughly for the simple reason that the hero will correct these one by one until he overcomes the challenges put in his way by the force of nature or the big, bad villain.

An author has to get to know his main characters. If he can’t see them as real, then neither will his readers. Every facet of their lives must be created, even if some of it isn’t used in the novel His personality should be transparent to the writer so that he knows how the hero would react in any situation, either social, familial or threatening.

Joyce Carol Oates talks about characters of her book, The Gravedigger’s Daughter, in the video below:

https://youtu.be/LgJ809QKmas

Video transcript:

When I begin a novel with characters I always begin with people. I’m not like a poet, for instance, who doesn’t necessarily have any characters, and in poetry, maybe poets in the room? Parts tend to begin with a sense of form and maybe hear a rhythm or feel a rhythm without any words you know.

It’s a very musical thing but a novelist and a short story writer, or prose fiction writer, almost always begins with people. So the people are the first and for me the setting and the people are always together and the setting is somehow a part or like a character. I think of the settings of my prose fiction as characters too and they exude a certain personality.

Well, I guess I just like, I like people very much I’m very enraptured by people’s personalities. I must confess I also like animals and I think dogs and cats, and I’m sure horses, I don’t know horses that well, but that they have personalities too, and they’re very distinct.

We all know, if you who live with animals, you know they’re very strong personalities but how do you character that? I’ve tried to write about animals to some extent and in my children’s books I do have animals who basically can think and see my people.

But people can express themselves and so if you allow people, if you’re a writer, if you allow your people to talk, they will express themselves in a way that the writer herself might not have thought of.

I give an assignment to my students to create a character to people talking. Not talking to one another and they say “well we don’t know these people” and I said “well, you have to listen and what you write in the first five minutes is just the beginning”.

If you stay with it for two hours and really work at it, at the end of those two hours you’ll have something, but you won’t know what it is in the beginning. A young writer thinks ‘well, I can’t do that’ and they sometimes they want to give up.

But a writer who’s been training for quite a while doesn’t give up. Like, I know the first six weeks of writing a novel for me are like hell. I’m very unhappy and very frustrated and actually very miserable but I keep on going.

But I think a lot of new writers, they you know, facing this first six weeks or so when nothing seems to be coming together and and you were so frustrated you read over what you have you don’t like it. You keep on reading it over and you don’t like it, finally give up. I think a lot of people give up, but the writer who’s the seasoned veteran, you know, he’s got all these scars and somewhere the seasoned veteran knows that the terrain is really rough in the beginning but stays with it.

Rebecca was someone that I imagined very strongly, would be a fairly plausible early version of my grandmother whom I knew in a very different way because she had to be strong. This is a girl who is not a very feminine person. She had to be strong to survive and a brother like Herschel had to be strong.

He survives, also the father was a person who could have been very effective and wonderful , fat and very cultured person back in the small town near Munich in Germany where he had an identity. It was in a residential neighborhood. He had a family. He had relatives. He was known. He was transplanted and thrust across into this new world in a horrible situation. He gets a radio. It’s up at one point in the novel he’s listening to the war news.

It’s all he wants to hear, about what’s happening back in Germany and what the Nazis are doing. What the Allies are doing. He’s completely obsessed and he never really, he can’t possibly get over it. It comes to a tragic end but obviously his children don’t have that same feeling and they do survive, they move on the novel.

Actually it has many things in it after the initial trauma. Rebekah becomes Hazel Jones. She makes herself into a very pretty, popular girl, sort of like June Allyson in the movies. You know, our Doris Day. A really nice upbeat person who will become a wonderful mother and she’s moving toward the grandmother whom I knew who was such a wonderful person but obviously had made herself that way. She wasn’t naturally that way. She acquired that personality.

How To Create The Protagonist – It’s All In the Detail

Create Character Profile AnalysisCharacter analysis is an essential part of novel structure and planning. The protagonist must live and breath for the author, if the is to seem real for readers.

The best way is to build a character profile in the form of a list or table. Think about any person that you know and jot down facets of their lives that you know about, and then facets that you don’t know about.

Try to create about 100 questions about your main character that can be expanded as required to increase his or her complexity. Some sample questions may be:

  • Marital status – happy or not?
  • Rich or poor?
  • Past family history – happy or troubled?
  • Current employment?
  • Where does he live?
  • Greatest desire?
  • Greatest fear?
  • Social life – sociable or lonely?
  • Who are his friends?
  • Most appealing personality traits?
  • Biggest personality flaws?
  • How does he or she dress?
  • Religion, spirituality?
  • Physical appearance?
  • Sunny disposition or gloomy?
  • Optimist or pessimist?
  • Greatest fantasy or dream?

Expanding even this short list will create quite a rounded character and help to make the hero real and believable.

How To Make Your Hero Likable

Some novels start with a completely useless main hero, who seems to have nothing going for him at all. Of course, fate hasn’t been very kind to them, built their personality has also gone off the rails. The complete and utter turnaround in this type of character’s fortunes and overall outlook makes for a powerful novel.

Character Flaw DefinitionWho doesn’t like reading about a wreck of a human being with a nasty disposition who turns himself around and wins in the end? The question is ‘How to get the reader to like and relate to this obnoxious character?’

A method used in the movie world can also be used when writing novels. It’s a technique called ‘Save The Cat’ and is the brain-child of Blake Snyder, a professional movie script writer.

Within the first ten pages of your story, the main character should commit an act of gratuitous kindness, with no thought of reward or any motivation other than to help. Blake gives the example of a man walking past a tree with a distressed kitten stuck in the top branches. Our hero climbs the tree at some risk to himself to Save The Cat.

This act endears him to us and we want to follow him. However he seems to be, we have been shown he’s a good man deep down and we immediately relate to him. It doesn’t have to be cat up a tree. Any act of kindness will do – give a beggar his last dollar, pick up a fallen child crying in the road or remove a bird from a trap – it all works!

Paradoxically, an author can use the same device to show how bad a person really is. Picture this: A man leaves an expensive restaurant and a beggar approaches him with his hand out. Our well-dressed friend pushes him out of the way without even looking at him. An incident such as this paints an instant picture and we don’t need too much description to explain what this man is like deep down.

Character Arc Definiton and examples of heroes and villains