Characters are essential to a great story. They are the actors who perform the story you create. They are essential pieces to the puzzle, and no story can exist without characters.
But characters can sometimes be the hardest part of a story to create. They need complexities, and realistic qualities in order to seem like real people. They need traits that makes them likable, or makes them utterly detestable, depending on what you’re writing.
There are many different ways to create a character. If you are wondering where to start, or wondering how to add new qualities to a character you’re already working on, try finishing the following sentence:
They are the sort of person who…
This exercise will help you develop those qualities that will make your characters come to life on the page. Here is an example.
John is the sort of person who would help an elderly woman across the street.
What does this tell us about John? He’s a nice person. He respects people older than him. He likes to help other people. That one sentence has made John more of a real person than he was before the sentence was written.
It’s safe to say we know a fair amount about John now. However, a different end to that sentence or an addition to it can change our vision of John completely.
John is also the sort of person who would take that woman’s wallet after he is done helping her.
Is this what you expected? How does this change what you think of John? He no longer seems like a nice person, but a person who pretends to be nice until he can get what he wants.
From these two sentences, we have created a complex, three-dimensional character in John. Now he’s a character we can put in a story and have him come to life on the page. Whatever story we place him in will have a greater impact because it will effect a person we understand, someone we’ve gotten to know.
Try this exercise with the characters you’re working on! And don’t forget to submit your stories to Rubix when you’re done with them! The deadline to submit is February 12th. We look forward to reading your work!