ACWC Writers Blog

January 31, Assignment 4 - Bring Your Characters to Life
Sunday, January 31, 2021 by Cindy Sproles

By Andrea Merrell

photo courtesy of pixabay.com and RyanMcGuireCertain movies and TV shows have a way of making us want to watch them over and over. Sometimes it might be the storyline. At other times it’s because we love the characters.

My husband teases me about Hallmark movies. “They’re all the same,” he says. “You know how they’re going to end. Don’t you get tired of them?”

So, why do I love them? Do they have a great plot? Not always. Are they predictable? Perhaps. What makes the difference? For me, it’s the characters. There are certain actors and actresses I will watch no matter what. Some I enjoy more than others. Even when they’re playing an entirely different role, I get to know them, along with their little quirks, habits, and facial expressions. They feel like family. In other words, I fall in love with the characters.

Isn’t that what we want our readers to do, fall in love with our characters? Absolutely. The question is … how do we accomplish that?

Creating Memorable Characters

As writers, we want our characters to be memorable. To accomplish this, we must introduce them in such a way that our readers will immediately connect with them. It’s best not to do this with backstory, and you don’t want to overwhelm your readers with too many details. Here are some elements you can skillfully convey about your characters (but certainly not all at once):

  • Name
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Appearance
  • Interests
  • Habits
  • Quirks
  • Phobias
  • Desires
  • Fears

 

Make Your Characters Relatablephoto courtesy of pixabay.com and RyanMcGuire

None of us are perfect. In light of that fact, readers don’t want to read about perfect characters. Give them depth. You can highlight their strengths while exposing their weaknesses. They should be flawed—just like all of us—making them real and relatable.

Think about some of your favorite characters. What do you love about them? What do they do that frustrates you? What is it about them that is extremely predictable—or unpredictable?

Make the reader cheer for your protagonist and boo your antagonist. Show your reader early-on your protagonist’s goal—what he or she desires the most—and then allow your antagonist to keep that goal just out of reach.

And what about secondary characters? They can add important layers to a story. Again, think about your favorite books and movies. You can make these characters funny, loveable, loyal, irritating, charming, mysterious, arrogant, or just plain goofy.

The key is to paint a picture so well that your readers can see your characters. Feel what they’re feeling. Walk alongside them. When they do, they will remember your characters long after they read the last page of your story. 

~~~~

ASSIGNMENT:

Pick one of your characters, then flesh out that character by providing more information. Make them more real to the reader by adding creative details.

 

photos courtesy of pixabay.com and RyanMcGuire


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