When you create your characters, go ahead and give them meaty biceps or thin shanks, blue eyes, wild hair, courage or phobias, vegetarian, surrounded by chaos. Make choices until you know who they are.
For example, the main character of my book Clara has shiny golden blonde hair and big beautiful blue eyes. She lives in a small town full of lovely gardens that she feels are magical. She loves to sit under the big oak tree and read her book to the little lizards. Clara also thought she was the luckiest girl in the world because her parents had a little candy shop in town. Sometimes after school, she helped her parents in the shop, selling the candies. She is kind, smart, and cares for all creatures. Clara is sweet like the candies at her parent’s store. This character is giving to all creatures large and small and tries to see only the best in everyone from the lizards to the town bully who tries to destroy the lizard kingdom.
What to consider when you create your character:
What’s the main characters story and what are they doing in your book? Who has been the inspiration for that character? Putting up tidbits on your characters can really pique the interest of your readers.
While plot is important, good characters can make or break your book. And the best characters are those who relate convincingly not just to their world, but to one another.
Everybody has relationships. In your fiction—as in life—you want to take those connections beyond the obvious. Think of the hero and his joking sidekick, the frustrated teacher and the teacher’s pet, the confused father and his gifted child, the rebel cop and the reckless chief.
“When we describe a character, factual information alone is not sufficient, no matter how accurate it might be. The details must appeal to our senses.” -Writer’s Digest
Here are some additional quick tips to help you create your next book character:
1. Make them stop and think. Make your characters think about their bonds (parents, new friends, animals); to help them grow as a character, you can make them challenge their own thoughts and feelings.
2. Give them strong opinions and flaws. Flaws are good and help make your characters more relatable. Afterall, no one is perfect.
3. Play a game of risk. This relates to the first tip - make one-character sacrifice or risk something for another. The reader will enjoy the suspense of what happens from their selfless act.
4. Make a triangle in the character’s relationship. The third party doesn’t even have to be human; it can be an animal, a career, a call to adventure, a family obligation—anything that may get in the way.
5. Leverage a group. Figure out how the underdog might transform into a tyrant, or how a little secret can become a public threat.
6. Don't overexplain. Resist the urge to overexplain character relationships. There will be room for interpretation and the reader can draw some of their own conclusions about the characters.
7. Tap into the power of a chip on the shoulder. Who doesn’t love an underdog? If you’re creating a character with a sensitive spirit, you can make him/her suffer injustices that guide their decisions as the story progresses.
8. Don’t overlook everyday interactions. A chance encounter with a stranger can be powerful enough to transform a moment, or a day, even to change your life.
I hope you enjoyed this read, now let your imagination take you away and get to work on your next character! If you’d like to see how Clara developed in The Kingdom of the Lizards, get a copy of my first book today.
For more tips and suggestions from Katrina Kusa on music, writing, and acting check out my other blogs.