Think about some of your favorite characters. Think about where they come from, what they are like, what they like to do. This is what makes a character. They need a backstory. They need a personality. They need some quirks or unique features. Let’s take Harry Potter for example. He grew up without his parents. He has a scar on his head from when he was a child. He’s brave and would sacrifice himself for his friends, but he is also stubborn and puts his friends in danger. Just these little details are crucial to a character in their story. Every detail makes a difference. Every detail is important, whether a character is super picky on what type of food they eat, or has a habit of always tucking their hair behind their ear. Here are seven ideas to utilize and think about when crafting your characters.
1. Give them a backstory
Our past experiences are what creates who we are today. In a character, it is crucial to give them adventures or traumatic events in their previous years that have shaped who they are. Not only does it give them more depth, but it also enhances a character and gives more opportunity for the readers to relate or empathize with them.
2. Give them a personality
There is no person without a personality. Everyone has characteristics that set them apart from one another. Giving your character traits is essential for them to be a fully rounded person. These could be good traits, such as compassion, ambition, flexibility or humbleness, or they could be more undesirable traits, like arrogance, deception, selfishness, or greed. It is critical not to just give them “good” traits or “bad” traits because people are more complex than that. There is always a good mix you can create for your characters, whether they be protagonists, villains, or even a mix of both.
3. Give them strengths and flaws
Human beings are complex, so apply that knowledge in your characters. Every single person has their strengths and flaws. If your character wins every time, there is no story. They have to fall in order to get back up again. Their weaknesses are also what make every character relatable in fiction. We never relate to perfect characters because there are none. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has flaws, even if they are hard to spot.
4. Give them quirks
There is no such thing as “normal”. Everybody is weird—that is what makes us unique. Behavioral, communicative, eating, physical, or movement quirks enhance a character. These can be subtle or completely random details, such as shaking their leg when they are nervous, always in a slouched posture, consistently talking to oneself, biting their nails, etc. There are an abundance of ideas you can find on the internet or just brainstorming that will amplify a character in your writing. Here are some you can utilize.
5. Give them motivations and passions
A key part of who you are is your passions. Passions are powerful, and they help us know what we want to do with our life. If your character has a goal (or multiple) to accomplish, you are doing something right. Without motivations, it is harder to come up with reasons behind a character’s actions. A passion might be a dream of becoming a lawyer, writing a book, or traveling around the world. There also might be desires, such as the want of love, a friend, or a change in their life. There are numerous ways you can take this, but always make your characters relatable to some extent.
6. Paint a physical picture of them
When you think of character development, you might be thinking of creating their personality or goals; however, their physical picture is also vital. Features like blonde hair, freckles, short stature, etc. give the reader a chance to visualize a person similar to how you, the writer, imagine them. Description is key! Some helpful tips include sketching them (if you’re an artist), finding reference pictures, or creating a digital rendering.
7. Do your research!
Creating a well-rounded character takes work. Always do research, even when you think you’ve got it all figured out. Make sure your character is believable, relatable, and able to generate an enthralling story. There is always more you can add, and researching might even spark additional imagination. Keep going; you got this!
Whether it’s a main character, or a random person who appears on page 136, all characters are worthy of being developed. Character creation—for each and every one of your characters—makes a book a hundred times more captivating. Every character deserves a story. And it’s every writer’s job to give them one.