How to Build Characters
How to build impressive characters
Characters are just as important as your plot in fiction. If you build strong characters, you can pretty much put them in any situation and your readers will be invested. Even if your story is plot-based, having well rounded characters will push your plot along.
Here are tips on how to build impressive characters that your readers will be invested in.
Your characters must have:
A face - You should know everything about your characters physically. Do they have freckles? A lazy eye? Do they have multiple curl patterns in their natural hair? Do their eyes change colors with the season? Etc. This may not all be accessible to your readers right off, but having these details makes it easier to paint the picture in your head.
A personality - What is your character’s biggest pet peeve? What little things make them happy or content? What are their stress relievers? What causes them the most stress? How do they deal with frustration? Are they introverted? Extroverted? Do they pick their nose when nobody's looking? What makes them unique?
A mission - What are your character’s life goals? Short term and long term? Know what your character needs vs what they want, even if they may confuse the two. Also figure out the deeper revelation of their surface goals. Do they want that promotion because they want to live a certain lifestyle because of insecurities? Do they want a child because they want someone to love? Do they want to kill their enemy out of fear of being killed? Etc. Again, even if your character doesn’t know their reasoning, you need to. Knowing these things will help you develop a plot and be able to push your character through a story arc smoother than if you don’t know this.
An opposition - A good story is always knowing what your protagonist wants (or needs) and stopping them from getting it. Whether their battle is against themselves, God, another person or nature...no story is complete without some type of opposition.
An arc - A character arc is the transformation your character takes over the course of the story. This is the outcome. If you know where you want your character to end, you can figure out everything else in the middle. The arc is just the pattern they follow. They begin one way and gradually transform into a different sort of person. This can be a positive change or a negative change, that is totally up to you. You just need to know which direction you want them to go.
Challenge: Use the character development worksheet on our blog to create the protagonist of your story. If you’ve already started the profile, great! Fill in what you have and work on the rest.
Character profile questionnaires: