Please note: I used “he/him” while writing this article to prevent shuttling between the use of he/she or him/her while talking about the characters.
As a novelist, you are different from a writer. Your job is to create a world and show that world to your readers. Not only that, but you also have to make your readers fall in love with the world you’ve created. One of the ways to do that is to have impactful characters.
There are lots to figure out when you decide on a character, it’s like having a baby but the difference is that babies later grow to have their personalities, interests, likes and dislike. Whereas, you are responsible for everything that happens to your character throughout your book, from when he will go to the restroom till when he will die. I know, what a power, right? but be nice to them.
Nobody likes a dull character. Your readers have to see your characters the way they would see a human.
- Create a believable character: the idea is to let your readers see your characters as real humans, with flaws, fears and failures, like every human. Even Superman has a weakness, kryptonite. It makes your characters more relatable when you let us see them as humans.
- Profiling: A character profile is essential for an author or a novelist. There are things about Jordan, from my novel, Halley’s Comet, that only I know, because they were not written in the book. But those other things are what I used to build him up and give him a personality. Your readers must see your characters through his;
- Physical attributes (tall, short ugly, lanky, plump. Does he have beards or a moustache?)
- Hair, skin and eye colour
- Like and dislikes
- Fears, flaws, weakness
- Mannerism (scratching when he is nervous, biting nails…)
- A back story and history.
These are some of the basic profile you need to have for your characters. Let us know what his voice sounds like, how he walks, how he looks at things. Let each character have something that distinguishes them from other characters.
3. Character growth: We have basically two types of characters, dynamic and static characters. You must decide which category your character falls into. Your main characters need to grow. Let us see your character struggle and deal with his flaws and fears and how he grew to overcome them. Let us see their inner struggles. Make him real, throw him in impossible situations and see how he gets out of it.
The truth is that, once you have your character profile, you stop thinking for them. Because you know what each character can or can’t do, you automatically know what they can say, what they can do and how they would react to situations. It takes a lot off you and gives your character a chance to grow and play out their lives how they want.
4. Conflicts: Every character, especially, the main characters need them. Your character needs an inner and external conflict. They have a goal, right? well, don’t make it easy for them to achieve it, throw in some obstacles. We all remember the various obstacles Harry Potter had to face before he finally defeated Voldemort. The conflict could be with another character or with himself.
5. Dialogues: Reactions during dialogues are useful in making a remarkable character. From their dialogues, they can tell us what we don’t know about them, communicate their feelings and we can get a better read on them.
Your characters are the core ingredients of your story, they are the medium through which you tell your story. If someone has not read your book before, when they hear people talk about a character from your novel, they should think they are talking about real people.
Remember, your characters don’t have to be perfect, they should not be perfect, that is what makes them human. Instead, show us how they grow in the story.
With love from, S.A. Trinity.