Sunday, 18 May 2014
Creating Believable Characters
Fiction is about making things up. Simple.
The trick is to hook your reader early on, the first word ideally. Stories that have stood the test of time always have memorable characters in them. So, how do you make your characters stand up off the page and leap about in your reader's imagination?
Lots of people create versions of themselves. This isn't terribly wise although most writers do throw the odd aspect of themselves into one or some of their cast. In a perfect world you'll love your main character. Remember that whilst you're writing your novel, you'll be living with this character in your head, day in and day out. You've got to like them or you'll send yourself crazy.
Your reader needs to feel empathy and affection towards your character. The reader needs to want the character to get out whatever tricky situation you've engineered for them. They need to be routing for them all the way. Make your characters human. That sounds so simple, doesn't it? Give them realistic dreams, back stories, thoughts and mannerisms. Make them real. Can you imagine them? What do they look like? How would they react if someone crashed into their car in the supermarket car park? You need to know the answer to that, even if it has no relevance to the story. You need to know them inside out. It's the only way to make them jump off the page.
There is no such thing as a perfect person. We all have faults, weaknesses, strengths and quirks. No-one is totally good or totally bad. Lay your clues throughout the storyline and let your reader work out who they like and who they don't, and why. Your job as the writer is to lead your reader along the path you want them to take but it shouldn't feel forced. Characters can help with this. If a situation in your storylines calls for an upheaval, use your characters reactions to make this happen. It's easier than you think. Go on, give it a try!