Characters… the most important element to your stories. Your characters need to be likeable. They need to be real. They need to be interesting enough so your readers will continue to read your book and, hopefully, your series. So how do you create characters that people want to invest in?
Charts! Lots of CHARTS! Or at least one good chart.
What I want you to take away from this post is that a DEEP understanding of who your character can really help your story become a best-seller.
First of all, your character is a person. They may be a fictional person, but they are real, real to your readers… or they should be. If you fail to make your character real, you more than likely have failed your story in the first chapter.
How is this done?
You need to know who your character is; they need to become your best friend. A friend that you are genuinely obsessed with. You are your character’s biggest fan. You know what they like and what they don’t like to the deepest level.
Most importantly, you know exactly what they want.
Desire is what drives the story. Your character has at least one desire that drives them throughout a story or series. A great example of this is Naruto from the series of the same name.
Naruto is a ninja. His dream is to be the Hokage: the leader of his village, and the greatest ninja. But when we first meet Naruto, he’s clumsy; he’s brash; and the majority of his beginnings, he would be classified as a loud-mouthed idiot.
What makes Naruto likeable is his persistence and resilience. He is the perpetual underdog when compared to his friend and rival Sasuke, but even though he isn’t a genius he works hard and overcomes all of his shortcomings. When he is beaten, he doesn’t just give up and do something else, he fixes himself. In fact, I would argue that that is the story of Naruto. He goes from being the major dunce of the ninja academy and ends up as the leader of his village.
How do you replicate this? Well, interview your character. Open up a word document, or a personal notebook, and write out who your character is. Discover who their parents are. Watch a typical day that they have. How old are they? What do they look like? What are they good at? What do they like? Who are their friends, and how did they meet? There are so many questions you can and should ask about your character.
This is a template that I typically use when interviewing my characters:
100 questions is a LOT of questions. Trust me, I know. I use this as a guideline; I have never answered every question. But I will say that when I spend time learning about my characters, I get inspired. Places where I experienced writer’s block, disappear instantly. It is my belief that writer’s block is typically the result of not knowing what your story is. That can be because you don’t know your character well enough.
Characters, or rather a lack of knowing your characters, can break your story. I hope that this brought some clarity to the subject of writing and helps you create better work in the future.
Please let me know your thoughts on characters in the comments below.