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Create a character that jumps off the page--here's how

When writing a story, it can be a pretty tricky business to create a character three-dimensional enough to be believable. After all, the only things you can give the reader are words that will somehow create the right picture of the character you’re creating, right?

 

The great thing about being a writer, and subsequently a reader, is that no one person’s imagination will create the same character—not even when they read identical words. Having said that, there are tips you, as a writer, can take in order to make sure your character is as believable to others as they are to you.

 

Create a sketch

You do this subconsciously. Before beginning to write you already have a picture of what your character looks like. To help with consistency, try writing all of their traits down on a piece of paper. Note their hair color, their posture, what they wear on a day-to-day basis, if they own glasses, their scars and beauty marks, how they smile—all of the surface characteristics that can help bring your character to life on the page.

 

Conduct an interview

You’re probably thinking: How can I conduct an interview with someone that doesn’t really exist, but you can! Think about all the questions you want to know about someone when you first meet. Things like: How old are they? What’s their favorite breakfast food? Do they chew their ice or let it melt? Figuring out the questions is only half of it, after you’ve come up some Q’s you’ve got to answer them the way you would want your character to. Even the oddest questions can help you create a more believable character for your reader.

 

Treat them like your friend…or enemy

To really get to know your character, imagine talking to them. If they’re the hero of your story, what kind of traits would you want a hero in your own life to posses? If they’re the enemy in your story flip roles and ask yourself the same question. Do they bare the same snarl when they don’t get their way like your little bro? Incorporating real life scenarios into your writing will help bring it to life and make it feel authentic and natural.

 

Don’t be afraid to treat your characters like real people, the more you get to know them, the more your writing will benefit! You can’t tell your reader every detail about your character’s life, but if you have a firm understanding of who they are, it will show through your writing and the reader will be able to draw accurate conclusions just through the window you let them glimpse through. Happy creating!

published September 19, 2013
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