In the novel world, designing a character can be one of the most fun and intriguing aspects of novel writing. But it takes experience to create characters that pop from the page. If you’ve ever been told your characters aren’t realistic enough, there’s some strategies you can take to improve their standing amongst readers.
1.) Create a character collage. Our characters may not seem real because of inconsistencies in the writing. Great characters take forethought. By creating a collage of sorts that visually depicts aspects about your character, you create a visual to refer back to when struggling to remember those itty-bitty details about the person you’ve created. For the plotter, this can be created in advance, but don’t worry, if you’re a pantser, just add to the collage as details arise.
2.) Design your character after someone you know. This idea can help you keep the character’s personality consistent. How would the person you know react in the novel’s plot? Answering this question, helps us design characters that react in realistic ways. It also makes the character more relatable. Most likely, if you can recognize the person in your work, the reader has someone in their life that the character resembles as well.
3.) Give your character flaws. We all have them, so why create a character without any? It wouldn’t make them seem real. Your character’s flaws can drive them toward making unwise decisions. Let the reader groan and beg your character to act otherwise. The difficulty here is we still need to make our characters likable. Keep the reader on the character’s side, but simply let them see that this “person” is human.
The writing craft is extensive, and for some writers, one area of struggle will be another’s strength. That’s okay. If you find characters are hard to create, work on the three suggestions above. You can also partner with a writer that you admire in this area. Ask him how he perfects his characters. You may find another strategy that works perfect for you from his repertoire. Either way, keep writing! You can do this, and I’m cheering for you. Writing takes practice and time. Work at it every day. You will get better.