One of my favorite things about writing a novel is breathing life into my characters. It’s not every day that you get to give someone a name, an appearance, and a personality. But there’s more to it—you want your characters to be authentic, to feel as real to your readers as they do to you. So, when creating a character, I always think about what makes them real to me.
Is it how I imagine they look or is it the way they sound? Is it their struggles or hopes and dreams? What makes a character real to you will make the character real to your reader. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re imagining your characters.
What is your character’s full name?
That’s right—they need an identity.
Does your character have a nickname?
Nicknames can show a character’s personality or portray their relationship with another character.
How old are they?
Age isn’t only a number—it’s an important factor for your character’s voice.
What do they look like?
Physical descriptions help readers imagine your characters. Writing your character’s physical description down for reference also helps, because you don’t want your character’s eye color to switch halfway through your novel.
What is their clothing style?
Everyone has a style and you want it to be consistent, so get to know your character’s closet. Jeans and T-shirts? Dresses? High fashion? There are so many possibilities.
What are your characters word choices?
Word choice helps aid your characters voice. Each of my characters has their own vocabulary and keeping a list of words and phrases can be helpful.
What habits do your characters have?
If someone were writing about me, I’d expect my signature move to be tucking my hair behind my ear because I hate it in my face. What do your characters do that sets them apart from each other or brings them together?
What else do you want your readers to know about your characters?
You can write about their interests, fears, hopes, favorite color, favorite food, jobs, family, etc. Let the reader really get to know your character. It’s what they want and expect.
Another hint for creating characters is to not force yourself into a box. It’s okay for your character to grow and change—it’s what they’re supposed to do—so take the time after you write your novel to answer the questions again to see the progress of your character. It can also help in the editing process. Know your characters like you know yourself…or better.
What questions do you ask yourself when creating your characters? If you’re a reader, what do you like to learn most about a character?