The most important part of your story is the Characters. Without them, there is no story. The plot (we talked about that last week) is driven by their motivations. The theme is what you get out of their story (I'll talk more on that in a later post).
A book is nothing without them. And you can’t just breeze your way through this one. They are important! You NEED to invest a lot of time in them; and not just the protagonist, but in all of them.
While there is really no one-two punch to knock this one out, I do have some important things/tips to include that will help you build your characters…
Quirks: Those weird little things they do all the time. Most of us have at least one, though more than one is commonplace. Maybe you like to say the same strange word whenever something exciting or peculiar happens… Or you rub the tip of your ear when you’re nervous. Maybe a favorite phrase? It’s important to share this side of your character with a reader. It's a part of who your characters are, just like your quirks are a part of who you are!
Habits: Good and bad ones. No one wants to read about a person who is perfect; likewise, you don’t want to make them so bad that people hate your character. They could be a smoker or an alcoholic. Your character might be so obsessed with exercise, it’s unhealthy. Give them relatable bad habits; something commonly struggled with. But also give them good habits. They can be tidy and orderly. Or kind and considerate. Or compassionate and thoughtful. Don't lean too heavily on either side; it's a balancing act.
Frustrations: What’s one thing that would drive your character crazy? Try something other people wouldn’t bat an eye at, but that your character absolutely hates.
Back Story: Even if you never tell all of it, write up your character’s entire story (separate from your manuscript, of course); beginning to end. Birth to death. Knowing them completely as people goes the extra mile in making your manuscript great! Even if you don’t share all of it, there will be an added depth to your story because you know it. It will leak into your story naturally and deeply enhance it.
Varying Characters: Don’t let two of your characters be alike. They can have similarities, but they need to be fully unique. Their own people. If you could put one character’s name in place of another and the change would go unnoticed, that’s a bad thing. Your characters should be easily distinguishable.
Not Perfect: It’s actually a good thing for your character to be wrong every now and again. It shows the reader they are human!
Another key to crafting a character is knowing that both the character and the story are driven by MOTIVATION. There are different types of motivation. It’s important to establish your character’s motives from day one. The success of their story depends on this!
1: Basic Motivations
2: Noble Motivations
3: Evil Motivations
4: Fear Motivations
Once you’ve established a motivation, their flaws should naturally become barriers in achieving this motive. Characters need two motivations; in the end of the story, they must sacrifice one to achieve the other.
One final word… Please! DON’T Write These Characters! Everyone of tired of them.
1.) Hunky/brooding/mysterious guy: These guys simply aren’t interesting! Cardboard cut-outs, to put it simply. The words I just used are literally all you need to describe them. Give your character lots of edges. Define their shapes as human beings. Sure, they can be mysterious or brooding or hunky… But that’s getting to be cliche. Give your characters more than that. Only the best!
2.) The Mary Sue: A perfect person. Always has the best intentions at heart. Doesn’t see her own perfection. Everyone loves her. There’s is no struggle, so there’s really nothing interesting to write about. Also she’s really difficult to relate to. People aren’t perfect, so don’t let your characters be. Remember: THEY don't know they aren't "real" people! ;)
3.) The Popular Kid: Usually is mean and hates the protagonist for no reason. They lack motivation and are senseless characters; there is no need for them.
4.) The Nerdy Sidekick: These characters need to be more than just nerdy. Give them a moment of bravery or a chance to prove their worth. Their existence needs to mean something! If it doesn't, they have no purpose. You don't need them.
Thanks for the read!
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