C is for Characters

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: characters are key to the success of your story.

You can have the most brilliant storyline, but if your characterization is weak, you will be unlikely to connect with your audience. On the other hand, there are many successful authors whose plot is dull, but the loveability of the characters have made them all-time favourites.

Take, for example, Beatrix Potter. Stories about rabbits getting caught by a farmer? Hardly nail-biting material. But Peter Rabbit and his sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail will forever have a place in my heart and childhood.

Now I don’t mean strong as in an overbearing or obnoxious personality. Indeed, sometimes such creations can lack believability, when for example secondary characters come to dominate a story. If you are not sure if you have a strong character, the chances are, you don’t. a strong character is well defined, known to you, realistic, lifelike. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does he or she look, smell, and sound like?
  • What does he or she care about? What will stir the passion of your character?
  • How do other people view him or her? What are the defining qualities, oddities, or quirks?
  • Make sure your character has a first, middle and last name, age, date of birth, country of origin, likes, dislikes, hobbies, occupation, history

Your readers may never know all there is to know of your character. This is a reflection of real life. I may never know everything about my close friends, let alone vague acquaintances. But as the author and inventor, having the histories at hand will ensure your character responds exactly as appropriate, given their background, lifestyle, previous interactions and so on.

There is so much more to be said on characterization. Keep an eye out for my “Creating Characters” blog series for more tips and tricks, or if you have a specific question, make sure you leave a comment!

Below is an example of my initial character planning, which developed from the writing exercise “Ms Fleming’s Wig”.

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