Here at Beemgee, we’re into the thought behind the writing of stories more than the writing itself. So we’re all the more pleased that Writer.com approached us to talk about character development. While their speciality is AI-assisted text generation for companies, in their guest post, they have some good general advice on creating fictional characters. Thanks to Nicholas Rubright for this article. Nickolas is a digital marketing specialist and expert at Writer. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar, writing music, and building cool things on the internet.
Writing characters with whom readers can identify and empathize should be the goal of every writer, but it’s not a simple task.
To fully grasp a character’s motivations, desires, and anxieties, writers must dive deep into the character’s psyche. Character flaws and strengths work together to build a solid character.
But what is the most effective way to develop a character? And how can you establish a connection between your character’s dramatic decisions and the story itself?
Your characters are the heart and soul of your story. Thus, before you can write a single word, you must first understand your characters.
When it comes to character creation, you have several choices to make, and each choice affects the story in its own way. You must, however, choose what works best for your character.
While an unexpected detail can make the character more interesting, if it isn’t chosen carefully it can damage the character’s believability and ruin your reader’s immersion in your story.
Here are some guidelines and tricks to help you successfully create mouldable character templates for your story.
So, let’s dive in!
But first, a note of caution
While delving into your character’s goals and ambitions and rummaging through their history, keep in mind that you are NOT your character.
It can be useful to ask yourself what you would do in a particular situation, but your personal POV should not be transplanted into your characters.
You may have certain things in common with your character, but you do not share their history, status, or motivations. So do not rely solely on yourself as a model.
By all means draw inspiration from real people you’ve known, favorite characters in other works, or purely from your imagination. A combination of character elements, borrowed from different sources, can create a dynamic, believable character.
Identify your main character
First and foremost, you must identify your primary character. This is your protagonist.
Who are you writing about? If you’re writing a narrative about three men plotting a casino heist, which character’s journey are we truly following?
Of course, there might be more than one major character. But identifying a single hero or heroine helps to focus the story, and it gives the reader someone to root for.
For example, The Lord of the Rings has a slew of key characters, and the narrative follows different ones at different times, but Frodo is the book’s main protagonist.
When developing your characters, consider drawing from the classic archetypes. To write a rich tale, you must know your supporting characters properly.
How do you create a character with depth?
Developing a character history gives you insight into your character from birth to the time your story begins. Even if many of these details never make it into your book, knowing your character’s history gives you tools to write them convincingly.
If your character is a 30-year-old, out-of-work lawyer, you need to have a solid understanding of your character up to the point we meet them. Why did they become a lawyer? Why are they out of work?
When you develop your character from birth, you can watch them grow.
Frequently, a story is about what differentiates the main character from the other characters.
This exercise reveals your character’s inner life, the emotional influences that shape them from birth. The character history helps you ensure that no two of your characters are the same, and it helps them stay consistent.
Beemgee’s character-builder tool can help you with this process. The tool asks you a series of questions about each of your characters. Answering them will help you define their role and importance in a story.
Identify character flaws
Fictional characters strive for something. However, just as in real life, their flaws or negative characteristics prevent them from achieving their ideal. This is a constant theme in stories throughout the ages.
Woody’s jealousy of Buzz Lightyear prevents him from keeping Andy’s best interests at heart in Toy Story. Star Lord’s hot-headedness prevented Tony Stark and the gang from removing Thanos’s gauntlet and saving half the universe in Avengers: Infinity War.
A character’s flaws can be metaphors for our own flaws. They’re what give a character a “dark side.” They are their weaknesses.
A few flaws can be minor, while others create huge blind spots that repeatedly impede their growth. These flaws deny the character self-growth and real satisfaction.
Most characters have at least one fatal flaw, a bad character trait that leads them to remain “stuck” at the start of the story. While an external force should be acting against them, your character must overcome this fatal flaw to feel satisfied and complete.
It is not required that a character overcome all shortcomings. However, if the story is to finish with the protagonist becoming a better, more balanced version of themselves, the fatal flaw must be overcome or at the very least weakened to the point that it no longer governs their lives.
Emotional wounds are the most typical source for a character flaw. Think about your character’s emotional wounds and how they may affect them while you work on your character’s history.
Identify positive attributes
While the protagonist must have problems that prevent change and growth, they must also have qualities that help them to find their way out of the shadows.
It’s simpler to predict how your protagonist will respond to different scenarios if you’ve defined his or her positive qualities.
If you put a group of well-developed characters in the same scenario, they will all respond differently. Even people with the same characteristic will behave differently owing to their unique blend of traits.
For example, the reactions of characters who have just won the lottery are determined by the characteristics they possess:
- An enthusiastic character may scream and shout, bounce up and down, and get others to join in the celebration.
- A cautious character could show skepticism and seek information before hesitantly becoming excited.
- A grateful character may shed a few tears and express their gratitude for their windfall.
Of course, if your narrative is more pessimistic, the bad will triumph over the good. In any case, you must be mindful of both the positive attributes and flaws in your character.
Getting it all together
The attributes of a character are derived from a variety of sources. As a result, when creating a character profile, you must know their wants, anxieties, desires, likes, and dislikes from inside and out.
A character history allows you to grasp their moral convictions and identify the need, ambition, and aspiration the character considers to be important. Defining their past will also aid in determining character flaws, which will guide you throughout the writing process.
The Beemgee character builder can help you obtain a better understanding of your characters beyond their basic wants and needs. It will inform how they react to moments in the story and their emotional journey.
The result will be characters that intrigue your readers and make them want to keep reading.
Mould your characters with Beemgee’s flexible dramatic character template: