Create Captivating Characters

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You are writing your novel, screenplay, short story, etcetera and need good characters. But how do you go about building characters? I will be blunt, there is no definitive answer. Building character is part of the magic in the creative process. But do not fret, there are four essential qualities that go into making great characters. In order to create good characters, you must dig deep. You are going to build the very foundation of their lives.

Here are the four essential qualities that go into making good believable characters:

  1. Your characters have a strong and defined dramatic need.
  2. Your characters have an individual point of view.
  3. They personify an attitude.
  4. Your characters go through a change or transformation.

Write that list down. Put it somewhere easily accessible to reference when needed.

What works for me is writing one-two page biographies. Start from their childhood to when the story begins. You can keep these bio’s as a reference when writing from that character’s point-of-view. Doing this will prevent your characters from doing as they please.

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The Day god Died: Chapters I & II

“…I hated him and his kind. I hated his affluence, his expensive clothes, his chiseled looks, and the arrogance he was born too. But most of all, I hated the power he held over me, his assumption of authority, and the truth of his superiority.”

Some “general” things you will want to write down:

  • Childhood relationship with parents and friends?
  • What was school like? Was he/she bullied, popular, a wall flower, etcetera…
  • What was high school like? College? What did he/she major in? Did his/her parents approve of their major?
  • How was his/her’s romantic life? Does he/she tend to have lots of sex, none, or somewhere in between? Does her parents/friends/society approve or disapprove of his/her love interests?
  • What does he/she like about themself; hate about themself?
  • Politics?
  • Rich or poor?
  • Does he/she like her job? Does her partner approve of his/her work, religion, etcetera…
  • Much, much, much more.

The goal here is to find tension.

Building character is part of the magic in the creative process

W. Alexander

This may sound strange, but the characters you create cannot be you. Sure, by all means insert your unique experiences into your writing, but your characters cannot be you. You are writing from another point of view, in someone else’s shoes. And don’t worry if you want to change things later. This exercise is to help you build deep, relatable, and believable characters. Whatever changes you make, write them down again.

Wherever in your character’s life the story begins, it is important they go through some kind of incident. A change or transformation. Like Harry Potter finding out he’s a wizard or Bilbo finding the ring. I will go deeper into incidents in a later post.

Remember, have fun creating characters. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Happy writing and good luck fellow authors.

I would love to have you follow me and learn more writing tips 😊

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Alexander Dunford

Previously published under the pseudonym W. Alexander. Portfolio: Escape Second Death (Poets Choice), A Nod To Derry's Son (The Closed Eye Open)

13 thoughts on “Create Captivating Characters”

  1. mphtheatregirl – I am a strong spiritual person who is a big fan of musicals. This blog mainly is about musicals. Every so often I talk about spirituality. Sometimes I add in movie reviews, book reviews, and about my life in general. I hope you find my blog inspiring.
    mphtheatregirl says:

    Crazily enough, two of my WIPS’ characters started with names- that really did happen.

    Then, they started being developed- my youngest is only five. All my WIPS hav child protagonists- Sparkle is 12, Lizzy is part of a picture book, and Aurora/Jasmine do age up- from 9-11

      1. mphtheatregirl – I am a strong spiritual person who is a big fan of musicals. This blog mainly is about musicals. Every so often I talk about spirituality. Sometimes I add in movie reviews, book reviews, and about my life in general. I hope you find my blog inspiring.
        mphtheatregirl says:

        My first WIP= in the middle, literally, my characters started writing the book

  2. D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
    D. Wallace Peach says:

    This is great, W. Thanks for pointing me over here. I agree with all your points and the prompt questions are excellent. I hope you enjoy the rest of my series as I’ll be covering a lot of these points too (in a slightly different order, lol). Happy Writing!

    1. Thanks for taking a look at it. I’m glad you liked it. I wrote it some time ago, after a lecture still burned hot in my mind from my creative writing class. Sometimes I go back and read it to stay on top of fundamentals, lol. 😂

      1. D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
        D. Wallace Peach says:

        On Part 5 of this series (the last one… phew), I’ll provide a download of all the prompts I’ve presented. Just like you, I continue to refer to these lists for reminders. There’s so much to think about!

      2. D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
        D. Wallace Peach says:

        Thank you, W. I’ll follow back. I like bloggers who engage. Looking forward to more of your posts. 🙂

      3. D. Wallace Peach – 30 Miles beyond the edge of civilization, Oregon – I'm an adventurer in writing, peering under rocks in my garden for secret magic. I can't stop writing. My stories want to explode from my head. They demand my attention and surge from my fingertips faster than I can put them to paper. I love what I do.
        D. Wallace Peach says:

        Just and FYI, I’m hosting a writing challenge right now, so you’re going to see a load of posts. Once this is over, I’ll be back to once a week. 🙂

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