How to Establish Authentic Characters for Your Novel

Books & Writing August 20, 2014
Establish Authentic Characters for Your Novel
Scene from Pride and Prejudice. Credit: Focus Features

All writers have styles and methods to their craft. A common thread between many fiction and nonfiction writers is the ability to create rich characters that have history and depth. The necessary skill is essential to delivering the reader a story that has flavor and a true element of believability. The process of creating and developing this aspect to a character can take many forms. We will be reviewing a few tips to take your character creation to the next level. Our goal is that through following these tips you can grow as a writer and increase your reader’s appreciation for your work.

In real life the experiential element to interacting in the world provides our brains with multitudes of information that are instantly categorized. People constantly make assumptions and connections about those they encounter everyday. These experiences create the building blocks to the stories that make up our own lives. A truly skilled writer is able to craft this realism on paper and have a character leap off the pages. That’s the stuff that makes a story last lifetimes and continue to stay relevant.

[tweetquote]One of the most essential elements to a solid character is a sense of history.[/tweetquote]

You need to keep asking your characters questions and demand answers. For example, if you are writing a love story here are a few questions that help develop a depth to your characters.

  1. What was the marital status of each characters’ parents? Did they come from a home with both parents, single parent, divorce, or maybe an interfaith marriage. Knowing these facts helps readers better understand the characters relationships and the decisions they make.
  2. What is the relationship history of each character? Did one person just rebound from a long-term relationship, does the other crave short-term romances, or did all past relationships end sour?
  3. Information not related to relationships is also vital to creating those real characters. For example, did the character go to summer sleep away camp, does the character love yoga, is one person vegan, or even things like the way each prepares a cup of coffee.
  4. The details of their clothing is also important to flush out. In real life, we instantly see what people are wearing. So knowing the type of watch the characters wear, their shoes, does one wear a specific belt, or how about a designer cologne?

Going through the details of the history and tendencies of each character is crucial to giving your words a pulse. Hopefully you have found these tips useful and they get you to think differently about your characters. The next step is introducing bits and pieces of those facts within the story. As different elements are revealed the story builds interest and the characters take shape. Most importantly have fun writing, keep it up, and enjoy the process.

No matter what style of writing you have the need for a true voice is essential. We know that our guide can be integrated to fit your style.

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