What is one thing that is very important to you when choosing a book to read? It may be an interesting plot or scenes that are so well written they make you feel as if you are really there. These are both important, but to me the most important thing when I choose a book to read is the characters. Well written characters one of the most important parts. After all, what would the story be without them? Even poorly written stories with a boring plot could be saved by amazing characters alone. Not saying that you shouldn’t work as hard on the plot. Work hard on all parts of the book, but you have to make sure your characters get a whole lot of attention. In this post, I’m going to talk about some tips to help make your characters shine!
Tip #1 – Give Them A Backstory
Everyone has a past, and fictional characters do too! They could have grown up with normal childhoods, or maybe they were orphans. Maybe they’d like to forget theirs, or not let anyone else know about their past. It could even be used as a plot twist! But every character must have a backstory. Most writers like to know every little detail about their character. A backstory could explain a characters’ personality. Maybe something traumatic happened in their past? Perhaps they have a certain aversion to something because of an event from their backstory? The possibilities are endless!
Tip #2 – Make Them Relateable
Readers love characters they can relate to. Not only does it bring them closer to the character, but it also will make them root for the character’s victory. Give them hobbies and talents. Give them bad habits and flaws. Little quirks can do wonders on a character. Maybe they’re an only child, or maybe they come from a huge family. Anything could make a reader relate to them. It can be a lot of fun coming up with character quirks and getting to know about their personalities!
Tip #3 – What Do They Want?
Characters need to have goals. What do they want and how can they get it? This is one of the most important things about a character because it directly links to your book’s plot. Does your protagonist want the girl/guy in your romance genre? Do they want to stop the villain? World peace? Maybe they just want a friend. They could want anything, and once you find out what that thing is, it’s your job as a writer to stop them from getting it. Sure, your characters will hate you and yell at you and might even stop doing what you ask of them, but it’ll be worth it. Trust me. Make it so darn hard on those characters to get what they want that it breaks them, and that leads me to my next tip…
Tip #4 – Give Them A Breaking Point
There’s a saying among writers; characters are like geodes- you have to break them to see what’s inside. One of the most horrifying, thrilling, exhausting things you will ever write is a character’s “snap” moment. When the characters is finally fed up. When they’re tired of having to go through all of that junk you put in their way. It is incredibly hard to get this right and turn it into a believable scene that will even have your readers crying for them instead of cringing at the awkward scene. I have to admit, this is something I struggle with. Either these kind of scenes come naturally to you or you have to practice them a lot. And I have to practice A LOT. A character’s breaking point has a lot to do with their personality. It could take a lot to get them to break, or you could only have to put a little pressure on them to make them snap.
For example, let’s take Sora from Kingdom Hearts. He went on for many games without completely losing it. He’s a lighthearted boy and as cheerful as they come. But when Kingdom Hearts III released, the latest installment in the series back in January of 2019, he snapped. A difficult battle took the lives of all he held close. He screamed and cried, but more importantly, he wanted to give up. It was too much for him to do on his own.
Now look at Irvine from Final Fantasy 8. Not too far into the game, Irvine, the cool, calm, and collected sniper of the group, breaks under the pressure of having to assassinate the villain. His friends are counting on him. He realizes he can’t bring himself to do it, even though this is specifically his career.
With one character, it took nine games to break a character. With the other, it took one event. It can be fun to see how much it’ll take to break a character. Well, fun for you, but not for the character. But what do you do once you’ve broken them? Like I noted before, Sora wanted to give up. How do you bring them back? For both Irvine and Sora, it took their friends to get them back on their feet. Give them someone else to rely on when the going gets too tough for your protagonist to handle alone. Give them someone who can make up the difference when your protagonist feels a little too weak to keep going. (And heck, you know, maybe you can kill those characters off later for extra breaking points?…kidding…maybe…). Have fun with this and don’t try too hard. Get lots of practice!
This post took forever to get out, because I’m either lazy or busy….pretty sure I’m just being lazy now. I hope you liked this post and I hope it helps with your writing. Though I’ve been writing for a long, long time now, I’m still trying to learn all this crazy stuff. The learning never does end, does it? I’d love to hear about your characters in the comments below! Now, good luck creating those characters and happy writing! God bless!