Most people have trouble coming up with cool character names, which is why some kids end up with names like Vagena (true story) or Gaylord (Gaylord Focker is truly the worst name ever).
But for fiction writers it’s harder because you have to come up with a dozen or so character names for every single story or novel.
I often find action movies boring because I have the same criticism every time: More backstory.
I want heroes and heroines and villainesses with complicated motives that are tied to experiences from their pasts.
The keys to a story are the characters, and the key to characters is knowing the difference between round and flat characters.
This way, you can be intentional about writing characters who make connections with your audience and also writing characters who support that connection.
You build a character by separating them from the mass of humanity. Making them an individual, rather than a face in the crowd, is the main challenge of writers.
A mannerism is one of the best ways to make a character memorable. Just a single unusual or curious affectation can make them stick in the reader’s mind.
How well do you know your characters?
You’ve probably asked yourself some form of this question before. Most successful writers spend time delving into the characters who populate their pages.
Countless resources exist (such as Bookfox’s “4 Character Questionnaire Tests—Can You Pass Them?”) to help you create characters rich in backstory, motivation, and personality—just like real people.
In every author’s life there comes a moment when they must slaughter one of their creations.
Yep, you’ve got to kill one of your characters.
I know, I know, you love them, you’ve created them, and yet for the sake of the story and for the sake of the reader, they need to bite a bullet, drink that poison, or succumb to cancer.
Guest Post by Jody J. Sperling
Stories are only truly great when they confront the great fears.
Bernard Malamud knew this. His character of Roy Hobbs, a naturally gifted baseball player, was shot by a mysterious and seductive woman, which ruined his career in the big leagues. This was what Hobbs dreaded the most — a career-ending injury.
There are three parts to a character: a personality, a backstory, and a motivation. These three things are what create your story.
Most important of the three is the character’s desire, or motivation. A motivation has the potential to be the backbone of the entire story, create a character arc, or add a more complex dimension to your story.
To create amazing character motivations, here are four rules.
The vast majority of character descriptions are simply lazy.
They recycle typical ideas about hair, eye color, and build, giving you more information about the character’s fitting for a dress or suit than the type of information you need to know them intimately.
The first thing you should do when describing a character is to pick a category that isn’t so overused. Such as trying to describe:
There are lots of character questionnaires out there stuffed with 200, 300, and even 400 questions.
This is overkill.
It’s not about how many questions you can answer, it’s about what questions you’re asking.
The majority of questions on these questionnaires are filler that waste the author’s time. I mean, “How does this character view life?” or “What is this character’s dental work like?” (I’m not kidding).
This is garbage, and ultimately unhelpful to making the character a fully realized human on the page.
Let’s skip right over the ones that you should know already: