Welcome to this week’s Writing Tip Wednesday, today I want to focus on characters.
When I look at why I love the books I do it always comes back to one thing: the characters. Characters are so important, they are what make your story. You need to get your reader invested in your characters so they will keep reading.
To be able to write great characters, writers need to understand people, to understand how people work. To have a high level of empathy, to have an understanding of how people think and act and feel.
One thing you could do to help understand how people work is to people watch. A lot of writers suggest taking a note pad and pen with you, I guess even your phone would be good for this if it has note taking abilities, and jotting down notes while you are on the bus, train, in a cafe etc. Jot down how people say things, how they dress, and move. How they react to different things and situations.
Another thing I have seen suggested, and find helpful, is to create character profiles for the characters in your story. A character profile consist of things like your characters appearance, hobbies, occupation, likes, dislikes, favourite food, colour etc whatever you want. There will be information in your character profile that you wouldn’t include in your story but will help you to know your character intimately.
You need to know everything about your character, and doing character profiles will help you get a better picture of your character.
Characters that are real and relatable are the characters readers will connect with and want to keep reading. Your characters shouldn’t be perfect and should have some flaws. Characters need depth and back story and you need to know what drives them and why.
I just absolutely love the late Catherine Cookson’s novels. She is one writer who understands people and knows how to write a character. If you like historical novels then she is one writer you should read.
To look at another, more recent, example, Melina Marchetta is brilliant at writing real, unforgettable characters.I highly recommend reading her if you want to study great characters.
Your ultimate goal is to write a character that feels so real that the reader forgets they are reading a story and feels so drawn into the world that they care what happens to the characters you have written. And I guess the best way to do that is to make them human. Their personality should leap off the page. Quirks, flaws and doing something out of character are just a few things that make us human and will make your character feel real too.