ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

5 Ways to Create Believable Characters

Updated on March 4, 2019

Good character design is an absolutely essential skill for any novelist to master. Strong, believable characters are what bind readers to the story; they become invested in the characters and in what happens to them. Nobody wants to read a book or comic in which the characters are badly thought out or unrealistic.

Creating such characters is where a lot of new writers struggle. Below are the 5 key points to good character creation

  • Create a strong back story for your character
  • Allow your character to evolve
  • Give character a distinct voice or personality
  • Don't try to make your character perfect
  • Build a good world

Create a Strong Backstory

When creating a character you must remember that you are in essence, creating a person, whether it is a human you are writing about or something else. A living (or not) being. And all beings have a backstory, something that makes them relevant. This is the single most important step; if you want your characters to be deeply engaging to readers or an audience, you will need a strong mental image of exactly who they are.

Ask yourself questions about the character: Where were they born? Where did they grow up? What is it about their life that makes them interesting and worth the reader's time?

Allow Your Character to Evolve

Nobody goes through life without changing. Humans are not static creatures nor should any character be. Not only is it highly unrealistic for a character to be unmoved and unchanged by anything that happens in the story, it is also extremely boring. A large part of a good story is following the main character through his or her trials and troubles and watching them change and adapt as the plot progresses.

If you are struggling to find ways in which to allow a character to evolve, just look around you. Observe people - how they react to given situations, whether its people in real life or in movies or in other books by authors writing in your genre. If that fails just picture yourself in the situation you want your character to be in. What would you do? How would the events you are writing about make you feel? What would change about yourself?

Create a Distinct Personality and Voice

This is another important part of the process. Many people fail at this and end up creating conversationally bland pieces, where all the characters sort of sound the same. Again, not only is this lazy and unrealistic but it is extremely off-putting to readers. I have given up many a book myself because of poorly written characters; no matter how good the story is, if the people in it aren't believable, one cannot be sucked into the world.

Listen to people around you, watch and read, looking for the subtle ways in which directors and other authors have structured their works. Give characters quirks or speech or thinking that are unique solely to them. Create each character's personality entirely from scratch and try to make them as diverse as possible. Imagine how boring a novel would be if all the characters had the same opinions all the time? Try and avoid this at all costs.

Avoid Perfection

Nobody is perfect and no character should be either. Giving characters unique flaws, either small or large, a few or many, is what sets the great writers apart. A flawed character is not only potentially engaging but also enables readers to relate to them.

Picture a story about a detective who was so good at his job he solved every case, every time. He was the perfect husband, colleague and neighbor and his life was dreamy. Doesn't sound very appealing does it? However if you twist it so that he is still a great detective, but with a drinking problem and a mild gambling habit, someone who has had a not-so-great life that has taken him to some dark places. Wouldn't you be mildly more interested in finding out how the detective in question has overcome is personal demons?

Build a Good World

Whilst this does not directly concern good character creation it is still highly relevant. The link between great characters and a great setting is a strong one - you cannot have one without the other and still hope to have something people will want to read.

Developing a good world or setting for your character's story to take place is essential - how are readers going to become invested in your character, no matter how awesome he/she is, if the world in which they inhabit is dull and dreary? And on the flip-side how will readers enjoy a beautifully crafted world if the eyes through which they experience it are unpalatable? Your world should be rich and engaging, a colorful complement to your equally interesting characters.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • mkingsphy profile image

      mkingsphy 

      12 months ago

      I kept thinking if things work with stress..?

    • jameelEvans profile imageAUTHOR

      Jameel Evans 

      12 months ago from London, UK

      This is true, there are always exceptions to the rule. It is perfectly fine to have characters that do not change; they are engaging throughout by just remaining themselves. However when I wrote this article I had people new to writing in mind, people who were struggling to make their first characters come alive, and having a character react and change to events is a much easier way to do that.

      In my humble opinion that is.

    • Porshadoxus profile image

      Porshadoxus 

      12 months ago from the straight and narrow way

      Four of your five points points are universal, while one is conditional- Allow Your Character to Evolve.Your character should evolve if you are writing a character story, but characters do not need to evolve for a story to be compelling.

      Example: In the Indiana Jones movies, Indiana does not evolve. He is the same character in all four movies, from beginning to end. Those stories are event stories, rather than character stories. If he had evolved in those stories, public reaction to them would have been different, and the outcome of the stories may have been different.

      Only evolve your character when necessary for your story.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)