The Writer: Creating Personalities For Your Characters
Read any great book and you will discover dynamic characters with unique personalities. A character without a personality is a dead and dull character. Personality gives the reader a sense of believability and a sense of realism. The reader must believe the character as a real, living, and breathing person. Many new writers often overlook the most basic of characterization, personality. Characters are the same as people in real life; each human is different because of individual personalities, and your characters must be the same. Give your characters life by giving them personalities unique of their own.
- Personality Traits
- Character Arc
1. Personality Traits
It is important that each character have their own personality and individual traits that show their personality as the story progress. It is our personality that dictates our decisions and actions and it is the same with the characters in a story. Personality traits must affect what the character is doing and the decisions being made. Personality traits should be clear to the reader by showing those traits and not telling.
Things to Look for
- The characters actions align with personality
- The personality guide the character actions and decisions
- Personality traits are clear to reader
- Character has certain flaws and habits aligned with personality
- Characters emotions represent the characters personality
- Relationships affect the characters personality
Note: Do not to overdue character personality traits; there must be a level of believability for a character to work in the story. If a character doesn’t seem real with real emotions the reader will not sympathized and lose interest.
Note: It is the job of the writer to demonstrate the character traits as the story unfolds.
The character must have goals, period. Without goals to motivate the character, the character will seem bland, for there would be no reason for the character to do anything in the story. Goals are what make a character persevere when all hope seems to be lost and the character finds the strength to keep pushing forward through the climax to the resolution.
Tips for Goals
- Goals can be achievements
- Goals can be something a character wants
- Goals can something a character needs
- Goals must be of deep importance to the character
- Character must be proactive in achieving goal
Note: Goals are a basic fundamental in character building. Not only goals important in real life, but in the life of your character as well. It gives them life. Goals affect personality, decisions, and actions.
The character must have something at stake. Without something to lose the reader will ask why the character doesn’t just walk away from the problem. There must be something that keeps the character from walking away, something of deep importance.
Tips for Stakes
- Value of the stakes is to high to lose
- Stakes must be of deep importance to the characters heart
- Stakes are most important thing in the characters life
- Failure is to great if character doesn’t achieve goal
Note: The stakes may be different for each character, and value of the stakes is measured in different standards by each character. What the main character finds important, may not be as important to another character. Two characters working toward the same goal may have different reasons or stakes that motivate them to push toward the goal.
Note: Keep in mind what is at stake is of extreme value to that character.
4. Character Arc
The character arc is a great tool for the overall dramatic structure of the story, and the key to writing a good character arc is to have the characters have their own and unique personality traits. Personality is what makes characters believable and draws to the reader closer to the story.
What is the Character Arc?
In simple terms it is the transformation of a character over the course of the story. The character changes somewhat into a different person as the story progresses.
Important Aspects to Remember
- The point of view of the main character does not have to fundamentally change
- Some characters grow as they resolve against the odds.
- The main character does not have to under go a major transformation
- Main Characters need to grow as the story progresses
- Not all growth is transformative
Note: It is important to remember there is a difference between growth and change. Some characters will undergo a major transformation, and other characters may under go minor changes, and understanding this concept will improve the character arc and its implementation to the story. Also take note a story cannot develop if the main characters does not grow and change, and it is the characters personalities that will determine the growth and change of a character. Therefore it is a necessary that each character has their own and unique personality traits. The writer must find ways to show the trait or traits, example: A character that is paranoid would chew on thumbnails, pace the floor, etc.
Note: A character without a personality is a dead character. Take great care when developing characters, dull characters will kill a story no matter how good the plot is. Take note of the top fiction authors; all their books have great character with their own personality. By creating personality in a character it creates a sense of realism. Never overlook the characters personality.
The writer should know the character better than anyone else, and a good way to know your character is to ask questions by creating a character sheet.
- What does the Character want
- What is the characters needs
- What drives the character foreword
- What award awaits the character if goals are achieved
- What is the character seeking
- What is at stake
- What will the character loose if goal is not reached
- What failures await the character if goal is not achieved
- Who is standing in the characters way from reaching goals
- What is standing in characters way to from reaching goals.
- What bad habits does the character have
- Does characters have physical defects
- Does character have mental defects
- Personality flaws
- What choices did character make in past that lead the character where they are today
- What choices did character make in past the lead the character who they are today
- How does character relate to other characters
- Does relationship with other characters affect his actions or personality
- Relationship goals with other characters
Notes: Use this work sheet when creating characters. It helps to create ideas and install personality. It is always a good idea to know a little bit about the characters in your story. And it is nice to have reference material to help generate ideas. Sometimes just by creating a Character Sketch a story will blossom in the imagination, begging to be written. I encourage any writer to create a character sketch.
Learn to create strong, diverse characters that entice the reader to turn the page. Use the information above. Using the Character Sketch is a good tool to create the basic foundation for your character and installing a personality. As in real life, everything from age to relationships effects personalities. Take great care in your writing, do your best, and be passionate about your work. To be writer is to have a great passion, a desire, and a need to write.
“To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.” ~ Michel de Montaigne
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