ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Build Your Story Character as a Fiction Writer

Updated on March 25, 2020
FelishiyaPS profile image

Prachi has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web design and development.

Character Development is vital when writing a strong story. Weak characters make for a weak story.

— Beem Weeks, short story writer and novelist

To write fiction is to walk on a rope, one mistake and the whole thing will turn out to be a disaster. You need the correct balance and focus mindset. There is a need for a well-maintained combination of plot, description, action, and character to develop an effective storyline for your readers.

Above all, character development is the most essential element of any fiction writing, whether it’s novel, short story, screenplay or any other. You must create a realistic set of characters to give an intriguing touch to your plot. To make sure you achieve this realism in your writing, you, first, need to know your characters.

  • Before beginning with your work, think about it how much you know them?
  • Are they Convincing?
  • Do they have depth?
  • Do they have an arc?

Related Content: How to Write Different Types of Character Arcs

It depends on your story plot. The amount of character information needed is estimated through the length of your story.

But first of all, what are the most common types of fiction writing?


1. Flash Fiction

It is one of the hardest fiction writings. In flash fiction, you need to cover up a whole story in a very short length, counting up to a few hundred words. Consequently, you need to describe your character with limited information, such as:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye Colour
  • Hair Color
  • Hair Style
  • Complexion
  • Body Build

Related Content: How to Write and Promote Your Flash Fiction

A Short Story is the Ultimate close-up magic trick to take you around the universe or break your heart with just a couple of thousand words

— Neil Gaiman, American Gods and other famous fiction-based and comic books writer

2. Short Stories

Short stories have comparatively higher word count than flash fiction, counting up to 5,000 to 10,000 words or even more, sometimes. So, it gives you enough liberty to give a more vivid description of the characters such as background information and body language. Some of the important characteristics can be, in addition to above-mentioned points in flash fiction:

  • Character’s Past Story
  • Birthmarks or Identification Marks
  • Facial and Hand features
  • Scent
  • Mannerisms and Expressions

3. Novellas and Novels

These are the lengthiest of all and need to have a detailed description of all characters because they are based on a character-driven approach. When you read novels, you’ll realize how every part of it contributes to the character’s description and a story revolving around him/her. Your character information also needs to include other traits like detailed physical description, extensive background, and personality traits to engage your readers until the end. Make use of the following attributes:

  • Strongest and Weakest Personality traits
  • Character Needs and Desires
  • Family Description
  • Favorite quotes
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Favorite colors
  • Favorite food
  • Education
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation
  • Financial situation
  • Character’s most valuable possessions
  • Character’s driving force
  • Favorite sport and Vehicle
  • Prejudices
  • Secret ambitions
  • Neighborhood Description
  • Childhood Memories

You can also write about how the character’s philosophy on life and his circumstances changed from early childhood to adulthood. It will also help you build an outline of your story.

The Dark Tower is a book series written by Stephen King. It has total of eight books in the series.
The Dark Tower is a book series written by Stephen King. It has total of eight books in the series.

4. Book Series

Harry Potter, Twilight, A song of Ice and Fire, Divergent, etc. are some of the examples of famous book series. While reading these or any other book series, you must have realized, if not, then take a look at them again to know how each book of the series covers up the same personality traits of each character with no slight mistake.

Book series is generally a collection of serial novels. Every character traits discussed above goes here in a similar way, the only difference is to carry them as they are in the entire series to maintain a perfect tone of the story.

Clothing Description

Only if clothing change is a crucial part of your story, add it in detail, otherwise, it’s better to limit your fashion description. There’s no need to talk about the type of clothes the character is wearing, it’s of interest to the readers.

Detailed List of Character Traits (Character Sheet) Discussed Above

The best writing is the one in which readers feel themselves to be a part of the story. For this, you need to put a massive focus on the character development so that your story is captivating, believable and unique. To help you out with this step, here is a detailed list of character traits (character sheet, as we all generally call it):


1. General Information


  • Full name
  • Origin


  • Who created it for the specific character
  • Does the character like it or not


  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth


  • Ethnic Background
  • Religion
  • How much faith the Character has in his/her Religion

Current Location

  • Does he live in an owned or rented place
  • Home Description
  • Who lives with him/her
  • Locality
  • Does he/she love the place
  • Home Decor


  • Names
  • How Many
  • Are they Gifted to the Character or Adopted
  • How he/she treats them


  • Current Occupation
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Income
  • Time Length
  • Location
  • Title



  • Model
  • Make
  • Color
  • Age

Personal Information

  • Sexuality
  • Marital Status
  • Partner/Spouse
  • Past Relations
  • Children

2. Physical Appearance

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Body Type
  • Eye Colour
  • Does he/she wear glasses or hearing aids?
  • Skin Tone
  • Important Feature
  • Face Shape
  • Resemblance to a relative or famous person
  • Health
  • Health Problem
  • Dressing Style
  • Special Jewellery
  • Grooming
  • Hair Style and Colour
  • Smiling Manner
  • Laughing Style

3. Communication Behaviour

  • Does he/she talk fast or slow
  • Accent
  • Voice Tone
  • Favorite phrase or word
  • Mannersims
  • Posture
  • Gesture

4. Everyday Behaviour

  • Finances
  • Personal Habits
  • Morning Routine
  • Afternoon Activities, including lunch
  • Dinner
  • Evening Routine
  • Bedtime
  • Skills
  • Hidden Talent
  • Hobbies

5. Past Life

  • Home town
  • Childhood memories
  • Best memory
  • Worst memory
  • Past Jobs
  • Police Records
  • Crime, if any
  • First Love/Crush
  • First Sexual Experience
  • Major accidents

6. Family Background

  • Family members’ names
  • Their occupations
  • Their relationship with each other and with the character

7. Relationship with Others

  • Best and Close Friends
  • Strangers
  • Spouse
  • Past Lover/Spouse
  • Children
  • Boss
  • Competitors
  • Authority
  • What Everyone Likes about him/her
  • What is his/her Biggest Flaw according to others
  • Secret attractions
  • Sexual Behaviour
  • Liked and Disliked Person(s)
  • Social Media Behavior
  • Persons they depend on

8. Attitude and Personal Beliefs

  • Any Psychological Issues
  • Optimist or Pessimist
  • Comfortable Situations
  • Uncomfortable Situations
  • Personality Type
  • Priority
  • Personal Philosophy
  • Biggest Embarrassment
  • Greatest Wish
  • Prejudices
  • Political Beliefs
  • Strength and Flaw
  • Regrets
  • Accomplishments
  • Secrets
  • Who knows this secret
  • Short and Long Term Goals
  • Life-Changing Events

9. Likes and Dislikes

  • Food
  • Drink
  • Color
  • Film
  • Music
  • Book
  • Sport
  • Quote
  • Possession

A character description helps readers better understand the story and his/her mentality towards different situations. Besides developing a fine character, maintain its consistency across the plot. His/her behavior needs to be similar when facing similar situations at different levels, also depending on the storyline.

Phases of Character Development

To enrich your character with life, remember these 3 vital phases of character development:

  1. Character Story Sketch
  2. Character Snapshots
  3. Character Revealing Scenes

Each phase has its own importance, neglecting any of them can cause you a lack of luster in your character-driven storyline. Let’s read about them in detail:

1. Character Story Sketch

Character Story Sketch provides you with little mandatory details about all the possible characters. For example, “Emily is a short blonde with a few extra pounds and a whole lot of confidence.”

2. Character Snapshots

Character Snapshots help you add depth to your characters. It reveals the character’s psychology to the readers. For example, if you are describing a traumatic situation, you can write, “Emily was abused as a child.”

3. Character Revealing Scenes

Character Revealing Scenes give readers a better insight into the deeper aspects of the characters through a compelling scene. It combines both character story sketch and character snapshots. For example, to further support the traumatic situation of the character, you can write, “When Emily watched a woman hitting her daughter in the store. Her muscles tightened. She couldn’t contain herself, not after what she want through as a child. No. She had to protest!”

Don’t Forget the Antagonist

An antagonist plays the same equal and important role as protagonist in shaping the plot of the story. Think about how you are going to present this role in the conflict with respect to your main character.

  • What are his goals?
  • What pushed him towards these goals?

Elaborating his/her likes, dislikes, sufferings would take up lots of your valuable time, instead, start with his/her goals and as the story proceeds, you’ll gain a better understanding of the character.

What scenes reveal the Character’s Persona/Psychology?

There are some major attributes of every character’s persona that are revealed when facing a specific situation. While writing, keep this point in mind, what types of scenes can reveal the character’s following psychological or behavioral situations:

  • Appearance
  • Quirks
  • Character’s Lesson
  • Skills and Weaknesses
  • Motivation
  • Trauma

While character development is the most important part of a story, the skills to insert a whole story into it requires you to be more creative and alert. To make sure, your writing wins the readers, it is better to read some other similar novels to get an idea of how everything falls into place.

As said by Stephen King, “To be a good writer, you need to be a good reader first.”

© 2019 Prachi Sharma


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • FelishiyaPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Prachi Sharma 

      16 months ago from India

      Thank you, LaZeric. Writer's block is very annoying. I am glad the article could help you.

    • trusouldj profile image

      LaZeric Freeman 

      16 months ago from Hammond

      Very cool. This article is helping my writer’s block. Thank you.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, 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:

    Show Details
    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 or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    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)
    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.
    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)