How to make your characters more interesting


Monday 10th August 2020

Ensure your readers can envision the character in their head as they read, but not too much.

The most important thing is to ensure your readers can envision the character in their head as they read, but not too much. Allow the reader to absorb small snippets of information as they read the story but don’t give them a specific description of the character to the finest detail.

The reason for this is because a lot of the time when you create a rigid character, it is difficult for people to adjust their perception of the character to what they like and enjoy. If you imagine 500,000 people reading a book, do you think they’ll all enjoy reading about the exact same set of characters, let alone just the protagonist?

No. This is why it’s vital for you to describe (this is a ballpark) 20% of your character, leaving the remaining 80% to the reader’s imagination, so they can mold their character to fit the most interesting archetype preexisting in their head.

Refer to your character with neutral terms, otherwise, you’ll throw off the reader.

Too many writers describe their characters with a tinge of bias or underlying hatred towards the archetype their protagonist represents – but if you stop to think, isn’t this against the purpose of writing a book?

When writing a story it is important to remember that, as aforementioned, you keep in mind that a lot of people will be reading it. It’s vital for you to provide a neutral playing field to ensure your readers can relate to their favourite characters in their own individual ways.

By this, I mean you shouldn’t create a character that smokes and then use words such as ‘disgusting’, ‘gross’, or implying the character is bad based on this one trait alone. Reading a book in which your traits are picked apart can be a massive turnoff for reading a book.

Write the speech differently for each character.

When we read a book, we subconsciously pick up small details. This is especially important when considering speech within your story. Try to read a book with a lot of speech, and annotate it with a highlighter and pen. This is a great way to learn about how successful authors construct their own speech patterns.

Speech is a sophisticated element when it comes to storytelling. The adjectives you use to describe speech represent how the author wants the reader to interpret their character and the way the characters speak.

For example, if an author used the phrase,

“Please, stop.” She muttered softly.

We would, of course, interpret the character (or at least in this moment) as a softly spoken, gentle, and polite character. If the character said,

“Oi you, shut up!” She snapped.

This is a polar opposite to the previous example, using colloquialisms (“Oi”), punctuation (“!”) to portray an informal tone as well as an angry one.

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