When creating a story the main element is the characters within the narrative. To ensure we, and our readers, can visualize and become empathic with these protagonists and antagonists, we need to take into account their personalities and backstory. We can begin by asking questions to enable us to create a fully formed character.
- What is this character’s name?
Names are a vital first impression for your reader. It can denote an age, location or era. Research names for your story that will fit time and place. You may also chose a name that has a significant meaning.
2. How old are they?
You can state a character’s age, or allude to it with their reactions, preferences or actions.
3. What do they look like?
You can give subtle clues to your character’s looks through careful descriptions rather than listing their physical features. For example, the steamed up mirror gradually revealed her wet long black hair. He easily picked the box off the top shelf.
4. Who are they?
Utilize a character’s occupation, a prominent personality trait, or interaction to give your reader a glimpse at them.
5. Where are they?
Ensure the location of your scenes is ‘visible’ to your reader. A dark room, a summer day in the park or a sandy beach. Place your character within these locations and have them interact with their surroundings.
6. What era/season/day do they inhabit?
With historical fiction, or date/era sensitive stories this is important so your readers are orientated to where your characters live.
7. Who are your characters interacting with?
Name other characters within a scene, this is usually accomplished through dialogue, or interaction.
8. How do they relate to the other character(s)?
Create scenes that help your reader understand the relationships between your character’s. For example, Tom laid his hand on Cheryl’s shoulder as she typed up the letter. She shrugged her distaste at her boss’s physical touch. Tom positioned himself on one side of her desk and grinned.
9. What is your character accomplishing in each scene?
Each scene should relay what your character is trying to accomplish, with whom and how. Give your readers enough information, but also ask questions on what happens next.
10. Keep your character’s plight foremost.
Keep your reader engaged with curiosity, emotional investment, or sympathy for your character, this will keep them present in the story.
Remember to be true to your story but also your readers expectations within the specific genre.
Do you have certain questions you ask your characters? Care to share?