• 11 Steps to Crafting Characters

    Woman Writing on Laptop

    I hate character profiles.

    Don’t get me wrong; I understand their value, I just don’t feel like I have the time to fill out every single detail laid out on the page. Is everything relevant to what I’m working on? I don’t think so.

    If you’re anything like me, you wish there were some way to create realistic characters without going overboard. If you’d rather not wax poetic about your protagonist’s shoe size or most embarrassing nightmares, all is not lost.

    Want to make your characters stand out from the page? All you have to do is follow these eleven simple steps.

    1. What role will this character play? Protagonist, antagonist, love interest, what?
    2. What is their name? Nickname?
    3. Where are they from?
    4. Gender?
    5. Age?
    6. What’s their background? Family history, wealth, significant life events?
    7. Race/ethnicity?
    8. Sexuality?
    9. Personality? Good and bad qualities?
    10. Likes and dislikes?
    11. Goals/hopes and fears?

    You don’t need a complicated spreadsheet to make a three-dimensional character. Ask yourself these questions, answer them, and you should be good to go.

    What tips and advice do you have for creating believable characters? What do you think of these tips?

    P.S. 4 “A”s of Characterization, How to Develop Stronger Characters, and Where to Find Character Names.

  • From the Archives: The 4 “A”s of Characterization


    Every writer understands the importance of creating believable characters. Story revolves around people–therefore, characters are arguably more important than plot. Whether you’re writing a novel, short story, memoir, or personal essay, it’s vital that you make your actors as three-dimensional as possible. Consider the following four “A”s of characterization:

    1. Actions. What risks has the character taken in the past? How has he or she treated family and friends? What about enemies? What hobbies does he or she enjoy? What has your character done? What is he or she doing in the story?

    2. Attitudes. How does the character feel about gay marriage, abortion, religion, and other  hot-button issues? What are your characters’ views on the world?

    3. Artifacts. What are your characters’ prized possessions? What shelter do they have? What cars do they drive? What’s the first thing they’d save in the event of a fire?

    4. Accounts. What are some noteworthy anecdotes about these characters? What do other people have to say about them? What rumors have been circulated?

    This is a rough list of just a few questions you can use to generate information for your four A’s. If you want better characters, give this system a try. And good luck.

    What do you think of this system? How do you like to flesh out your characters?

    Click to tweet: Want fully-formed characters? @thecollegenov has some tips. http://wp.me/p2FPLe-EH

  • How to Get Into Your Characters’ Heads


    As a writer, I know it’s difficult to get inside your characters’ heads, especially if a character is different from you. Creating believable characters means getting to know a character all the way down to the core of his or her being. If you’re finding it hard to identify with your character and figure out everything that makes him or her tick, consider trying the following strategies:

    Write an entry in your character’s journal.

    Write a letter from your character to a friend or loved one.

    Walk, talk, eat, and move like your character for a set amount of time.

    Write a bulleted list of important moments in your character’s life.

    Make a playlist of songs that remind you of your character.

    These are just a couple of techniques for getting over writer’s block where characters are concerned.

    What do you think? How do you get into your characters’ heads?