One of the most fun things about writing fiction is creating characters. If you’ve never created a character, you probably haven’t written fiction. If you’re new to writing fiction, you’re in for a lot of fun!
A common pastime for fiction writers is people watching! If you have not watched people, try it. It’s simple. You just have to sit in a public place, like a mall or busy restaurant. It’s important that you don’t do any of these four things:
- Take pictures of people you see in public places without getting permission. This is a violation of their privacy.
- Stare at individual people, and then be seen writing notes. This is just rude, and may get someone mad at you. Some person might even punch you, so you want to avoid the violence.
- Interview strangers, so you can fill in a back-story. This is an invasion of their privacy.
- Sit in playground areas and stare at children, try to take their pictures, or talk to them. This might get you arrested as a potential pedophile.
Observing human behavior, in general, helps you develop the different personalities. You can also use your friends and families to observe those personality traits. You can create back-stories from people that you know in your life. To truly fictionalize my characters, I always try to combine characteristics. For example, I might use occupation from someone that I know and use a personality and ethnicity of two other people. Mixing it up makes the character unique for your purpose, but something for which you are comfortable. It’s always better to write about something you know: that goes with character development.
Names also play a part of developing characters. Our names often define who we become. Parents often choose names based on the personalities of the people they have met who have that name in common. Ethnic names need to fit, as well. When writing a fiction piece that is set in modern times, you have to consider what names fit the time-period. The same goes for choosing names for characters set in older times, as well. For example, a Cornelia and Hortense are not modern names. On the other hand, Skyler and Madison are popular in modern time.
Making Characters Real
The secret to making characters real lies in developing characters that draw on your own experience and the people around you. Readers need to feel an attachment to characters. They want to experience the story with the character for which they’ve identified. Because the experience is so important, it is important to communicate the senses : feel, smell, taste, hear, and see. Here are a few other ways:
- Another way to make your characters real is to give your characters “secrets.” Let’s face it, in real life, people have “secrets.” Some are so small and others are larger. How these secrets evolve in your story can make your character feel more real. They can tumble out or the secret can be center to your plot and be revealed at just the right point in the plot.
- People have both strengths and weaknesses, so give them to your characters.
- Allowing your characters to be imperfect not only makes them more believable, it lets readers identify with them.
Create characters that feel real by writing in the small details. It is always one of the biggest questions that writers always ask: How much do I write about the characters? The trick is to show your readers more than tell them. But in the end, you need to develop your characters throughout your story or novel. Naturally, a novel and a short story are different lengths, so you have to balance the length with the character’s details.
Describing both the environment and your character becomes an art. That art is your writing skill.
Writing skills develop with practice. Be adventurous with your writing. You can always revise it later on. Read your work out loud. Hearing it will let you know, if you have gone off the reservation or hit it right. Being part of a class or writing group is a perfect way to get feedback on your writing.
If you enjoyed this article, then you might be interested in Creating Magic: Secrets to Making Characters Real, which is a $0.99 Kindle Book, part of a series Creating Magic. This book is available on Amazon.com, follow this link: http://publishwithconnie.com/CreatingMagic-Book2