Readers read for a variety of reasons, such as to learn, to escape, and to discover. Reading fiction is like entering another person’s thought processes for an hour or two. It is like travelling through their well-worn paths and meeting facets of their personality in the various characters that inhabit their fictional world.
It is no small feat for a writer to create believable characters that readers find both intriguing and compelling. Here are 7 tips to help you flesh out your characters:
1. Know thyself to create believable characters.
2. Become an emotional mirror. When others laugh – laugh. When they cry – cry.
3. Use your imagination to put yourself in someone elses shoes. How would you react to a situation if you were more or less of a quick thinker/sporty/shy? How would others react to you if you looked and dressed differently? Who would you be if you had grown up in another part of town? Another country? Who would you be if everything had been given to you on a silver platter?
4. Interview your characters. Many writers use this technique to get to know their characters.
5. Read some biographies of people similar to your characters.
6. Get to know more people and build more friendships. It is surprising to learn that everyone is going through something – some stressful situation or another. By understanding where they are coming from you can learn to be more empathetic.
7. Humans are made up of myriads of personality types and conflicting emotions – use this knowledge to create a wealth of characters in your novel.
We meet people every day who are unpredictable and individual. There is beauty in everyone. I tend to think of building characters as building a unique snowflake, with layers and layers of intricacy.
To make further progress in learning the art of successful character design, I recommend reading Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass and a Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N Edelstein.