Creating good fictional characters is needed for any good story. If your characters aren’t interesting or people can’t relate to them, then your story won’t be read-and what author wants that?
To make a fictional character, I find it’s best to think about what time period in your story will take place in first. For example, if it's set in World War ll then maybe it could be a soldier, a woman who took a job back home, or even a little boy wearing rags of dirty clothes who doesn't have any food or water.
After you have an idea of where/when this character will be, you can go into physical characteristics like gender, age, and appearance (are they short/tall, blonde/brunette, etc.) The main character in your short story should be described in great detail.
Once I have a few written down, I save some space on the page-just in case I get more ideas later-and then I write the personality traits the character might have (ex. are they overly ambitious and will stop at nothing to win). Decide what is causing this person to act a certain way in the story; why are they doing what they are doing?
When you create a character, it’s important to make sure they are relatable and have flaws-otherwise your protagonist will be very boring and won’t be able to carry a story. When I write my children’s books, I want other kids to think to themselves “hey, I’ve felt like that too!”
Lastly, at the bottom of the page, I like to jot down if this profile could be the main character or more of a supporting role. Does this person have a relatable conflict that they can grow & change from? In the story, are they the ones who can solve the problem or need? If so, then they are main character worthy.
If I wrote secondary, then I’ll also add one or two characters I think they would support well. A cast list of sorts. So using my World War II example above: The soldier is my main character; he meets the little boy after an explosion and is trying to help find the boy’s family but he’s distracted by thoughts of the girl he left back home-the one who got her first job.
To help you connect your characters, here are some common secondary roles:
Friend/Ally: Assist the main character in some way
Villain: Stand in the way of the main character
Teacher/Mentor: Teach and guide the main character
Joker: Their jokes can really help lighten the mood
Have some fun! You can even combine these roles together (like a funny villain, a joking mentor, or a villain turned ally).
I like to carry a small notebook to jot ideas down as I get them. This book not only has a brainstorming list for future stories but it also has character ideas too. I like to keep everything in the same place so I don’t have to find multiple places for notes for my books. Looking back in my notebook, I can partner up characters who may play off each other well or blend several together to create a book character faster.
Good luck and keep on writing!
Katrina Kusa is the 13 year old author of the award-winning children’s book, The Kingdom of the Lizards. This talented young author began writing at just age 8 and hopes that her tips on writing will help other aspiring authors. Want more tips from Katrina? Email her your writing questions!