Creating Fictional Characters—Part 8: Developing Characters throughout Your Story

We’ve covered a lot about creating characters. In this last installment in the series, we’ll cover developing your characters throughout your story. If you thought you were finished with character development when you created that character chart or bio, you were wrong. Just as people grow and change in real life, so must your characters. … Read more

Creating Fictional Characters—Part 7: Giving Characters Goals and Motivation

Characters in your story must have reasons for their actions. In real life, we don’t know what people are thinking or why they do what they do, but in fiction, readers will accept the characters’ actions only if they believe the reasons for them. They ask “Why did he do that?,” and they expect an answer—from words … Read more

Creating Fictional Characters—Part 6: Putting the Right Words in Their Mouths

I’ve learned about dialogue since the first draft of my first novel. When I’d finished about half the book, a writer friend read it. When she returned the manuscript to me, she said, “Do you realize you don’t have one word of dialogue in this entire story?” My characters talked—there was just no dialogue. I wrote … Read more

Creating Fictional Characters—Part 5: Developing Background and Traits Using a Character Chart, Bio, Diary, or Interview

In previous installments in this series, we’ve talked about what the author needs to know about her characters. You should know things about your characters that you don’t necessarily reveal directly to readers—things that cause the character to behave the way he does. In some cases, you will show, not tell, your readers. In some … Read more

Creating Fictional Characters—Part 4: Fleshing Out Characters with Tags, Traits, and Relationships

You’ve got some basic ideas of what your character is like: gender, age, vocation, manner. As described in Finding and Creating Characters, you’ve given your character a problem, a need. Now you’re ready to flesh the character out. Even though you won’t reveal all this information about your character at first, you need to know … Read more

Creating Fictional Characters—Part 3: Revealing Characters and Point of View

In previous installments of this series, we’ve learned what characters are and discussed how to find and create them. Now, let’s talk about how to reveal characters in your story. Although it may be tempting to describe your characters and tell the reader all about them when you first introduce them, that doesn’t work. After … Read more

Creating Fictional Characters—Part 1: Characters Are Story People

Several years ago, I taught classes in fiction-writing at a continuing education program for senior citizens. I’ve decided to turn my outlines and notes on these classes into several series about writing fiction. Fiction writers usually describe themselves as being either character-driven or plot-driven. This is somewhat related to genre—romance novels tend to be more … Read more