Home Forums Fiction Writing Characters How Do I Create A Fantastic Character?

This topic contains 19 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Emily D 4 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #35245

    Emily D
    @emily-d
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    Hi! Okay, so the title pretty much says it all. I want to create deep and entertaining characters, easy to learn from, but relatable. I don’t think that I am doing that. Please help me!!!

    Writer: A strange organism capable of converting caffeine into books.

    #35247

    Mark Kamibaya
    @mark-kamibaya
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    I could say something, but I know other people who could write more thoroughly about it.

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    #35250

    Kate Flournoy
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    @emily-d wow… what an enormous question. πŸ˜›

    Lemme take a stab at answering it coherently. First step, I would say, is figuring out the contradictions of your character.
    For instance, everyone has something that they want. For the sake of conversation, let’s say I want pie. But then, everyone also has something that they need— and most of the time, that goes head to head with what they want. I may want pie. But I need self control.
    Maybe your character begins the story wanting a certain thing— let’s say she wants to get married, or more specifically she wants to attract the attention of one particular guy. That’s what she wants. But maybe what she needs is contentment, or patience. Over the course of the story, she’s going to gradually come to realize that what she wants is not what she needs.
    This is called a character arc. When a character progresses from one belief/mindset/worldview to another.
    A good character arc accomplishes several things. It gives your character a goal (readers really root for characters who have a goal). It also provides an excellent opportunity for dynamic teaching, as you show through this character’s victories and losses what is right and what is wrong; what is to be striven for, and what’s not worth it. And it raises the emotional stakes for the reader. They may want this character to get married to the guy she wants, but if that’s looking at all like it won’t happen, they’re going to keep reading and keep rooting for her until they get a satisfactory outcome.
    Which doesn’t mean, by the way, that she’ll necessarily get the guy. No. If what she needs really is contentment, it’s your job as the writer to show how contentment is the better thing.

    And… I think that’s enough for one post. Guys? Help me out here.


    Daeus
    @daeus
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    @emily-d Okay, great question, and a very big one.

    I’ll try to cover it the best I can. First of all, I cover some techniques for crafting strong characters in my Jumpstart Your Novel, which is free for the time being, so I recommend you go ahead and sign up for that if you haven’t already. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, just go watch the ones on characters and point of view.

    What Kate said is rock solid. Roll with that. I also have one rule that’s based off exactly what she said that might be helpful. “The number one defining aspect of human character is duplicity.” It may seem contradictory for a murderer to give a hundred dollars to a poor beggar girl or a philanthropist to ignore everybody for a week because he has a headache, but these things are actually what make humans humans. This is not to say that all is morally relative, but actually the exact opposite. It shows the intense moral war raging in ever person in which no side is ever totally the victor. This is what gives sympathy for the bad guy and fear for the good guy lest he fall.

    This is all broad stuff though. What gives a character relatability on a sentence to sentence basis is the depth of his point of view. I don’t mean that omniscient is a bad point of view, but what I’m talking about is how detailed the character’s POV is. It doesn’t matter what POV you’re using, if you’re just recounting events for the sake of telling what happened, your characters won’t seem very alive. The real question is how it happened. How is a question of character. The tiny details of how a person acts are what makes them deep. The details of the metaphors they describe things with tells a lot about their psychology and their past. It’s the question of how that makes a POV come alive.

    Here are some things I recommend if a character just won’t come alive for you.
    .Carefully study his or her personality type to see how their brain works.
    .Write a scene with them using another POV than you normally use. (i.e. if you’ve been writing in omniscient, write from their POV using first person.) You’ll have to rewrite this if you want a consistent POV, but it should give you a lot of insight into your character.

    I may have more to say, but that’s all for now.

    #35253

    Mariposa Aristeo
    @mariposa
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    @emily-d Wow, yes Kate’s right, that is an enormous question.

    Here are a few other things you could do in addition to Kate’s and Daeus’s awesome advice: Try to get to know your character as much as you know yourself. Write a list of the things they like/dislike (you’ve probably heard this before) that no one will know but you. What’s your character’s greatest strength? Greatest weakness? Worst fear? If their greatest fear is spiders, than throw a tarantula on their back and see how they deal with it. Taking the Myers-Briggs personality quiz for your character can also help you get acquainted with your character.

    #35254

    Josiah DeGraaf
    @aratrea
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    At the risk of leaking our future plans, we actually have a mini-course on this topic that we’ll be releasing in late July! πŸ˜€ I’ll second what everyone else is saying, and also throw out there that you need to create a character that audiences can readily empathize with. The more the reader can relate to the character and understand why they’re making the choices they’re making, the more compelling the character will be.

    Writing fantasy stories w/superheroes. Β· josiahdegraaf.com


    N. C.
    @daughteroftheking
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    @emily-d Great question! I am no writing expert, but one thing I’ve learned about creating characters is that quirks are your secret weapon. People in real life always have quirks (perhaps not as crazy as the ones in books, but you get my point), so when you give your character a quirk, it makes them feel real to the reader. It can be something as subtle as the character counting the buttons on every shirt he sees, or something really wacky, like the fact that he loves fluorescent green, and practically everything he owns is that color. It has to fit the character though. A very serious character probably wouldn’t like fluorescent green, but maybe he hates smudges on his windows, and when he needs to think, he grabs a rag and some window cleaner and washes every window in his house? A quirk is like a calling card for your character. The reader sees it and thinks, “hmm, that’s unusual. I will remember this character.” Well, maybe that’s not exactly what they’d think, but does that make sense?
    *exhales deeply* That was the first time I’ve ever given writing advice to anyone, so I have no idea how that came out. Hope that made a little sense! πŸ˜› Happy writing!

    But not without regard for the double negative!

    #35421

    Kate Flournoy
    @kate-flournoy
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    N. C.
    @daughteroftheking
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    @kate-flournoy *flourish-y bow* Thank you, kind dragon.

    But not without regard for the double negative!

    #35425

    Daeus
    @daeus
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    @daughteroftheking Bravo! You’ve survived your advice-giving baptism. What you said was very good. Keep at it.

    #35427

    N. C.
    @daughteroftheking
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    @daeus Thank you! *basks in the glow of the compliments for the rest of the day*

    But not without regard for the double negative!

    #35432

    Kate Flournoy
    @kate-flournoy
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    @daughteroftheking in fact… you said something really good that I want to elaborate on, because you hit on an entirely different aspect of the discussion. Without meaning to, I think, but now you know. πŸ˜€
    See, you can have the most contradictory and duplicitous character in the world and still have them fall utterly flat. They have to live and breathe, and one of the most crucial parts of putting that life into a character is showing their duplicity and contradictions. Through their overall story actions, yes— but also in their quirks. In the details. In what is implied; written between the lines. See, with just those few examples you gave, we can already infer something about each of the characters. For instance the guy who cleans his windows when he’s stressed. I feel like he grew up in the streets and had a really bad life, but for him, cleaning the windows is a way of gaining some control over his environment— a control he never had in the past. It calms him because it’s something he can fix.

    Pretty cool, isn’t it?


    N. C.
    @daughteroftheking
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    @kate-flournoy *squeaks excitedly* Bubbles! I was deep without meaning to be. πŸ˜‰ *strikes dramatic thinking pose* *collapses in laughter*

    But not without regard for the double negative!

    #35469

    Kate Flournoy
    @kate-flournoy
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    @daughteroftheking *grins* That actually happens to me a lot… XD


    Rolena Hatfield
    @rolena-hatfield
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    @emily-d I shall direct you toward our best resource on creating a truly fantastic character. πŸ™‚ (in case you haven’t read these yet)
    KP Characterization Articles

    https://rolenahatfield.com/

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