Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Five Quick Tips on Creating Characters

Photo by Martha Ramirez

Let's talk characters. 

Here are some fun and quick tips on how to create believable personalities.

1) Let your characters' personalities shine. Don't hold back. Use dialogue to reveal who they really are.

2) GMC—No not General Motors Company. In fiction GMC stands for: Goal-Motivation-Conflict. Make sure you make these clear. This is VERY important.

Goal-A passion he/she wants or wants to avoid.

Motivation-the sole reason why his/her goal is important to him/her.     

Conflict-What's standing in the way of his/her goal?

3) If you have the opportunity to show another character connecting with your protagonist, go for it. Empathy creates emotion and if readers see that others care about your lead character, then they will too.

4) Don't be afraid to show your characters' flaws. We all have them. Readers can relate with emotions and flaws.
5) Choose a unique, yet not complicated name. You've heard it all before. To avoid confusion, don't name two characters with the same letter (yes, I admit, I'm guilty of this).

Same goes for names that rhyme. You don't want a Mary and a Fairy. Okay, bad example, but you get the idea J

6) Last, but not least, have fun. Get to know your characters as you would a friend. Interview them. Get under their skin. Add unique (or familiar) quirks and mannerisms.

Favorite mottos can help distinguish when the character is speaking without having to look at a speaker tag. Maybe he or she likes to call her friends: lovie. Be creative, but don't add it to every line. 

Great reminder from D'Ann: Careful not to overdo it.

What tips have you found helpful when creating characters?


Brenda said...

Excellent post, Mart.

D'Ann said...

Hey, Mart!

Great post!

Be careful not to have your characters overdo the "sweetie" or "lovie" in conversation, though. It bugs the eye after awhile.

Martha Ramirez said...

Yes-yes-yes! Great reminder, D'Ann. Thank you Brenda and D'Ann!

Angie Cox said...

Hey Mart,

I didn't know about not having characters start with the same letter. Hmm might need to change some things.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

I write fantasy, which allows for some interesting character development to be certain :)

That said, I would add...make sure you leave room for your character to grow. They need to grow, progress, and change as the story develops.

One of the greatest joys of writing, getting to know so many fascinating people :)

BarbaraB said...

I agree with Pamela. My characters are more real to me than some people I know.

Lia Davis said...

Great post! I'm guilty of having characters names start with the same letter. That's why my Herione and her sister are twins. :)

Lisa Kumar said...

Great post! Our characters should have layers (I always think of that line from Shrek:) and GMC brings that about--and showing, not telling.

Sheri Fredricks said...

One can never read too many helpful hints and reminders! Enjoyed your post.

Jessica R. Patch said...

Great post and tips!!

One thing I avoid and bugs me in writing, is when every line of dialogue starts or ends with the name of the person they're talking to.

"Joe, I said I can't."
"I know you said that, Betty."

I don't do that when I'm talking, Martha. LOL :)

Martha Ramirez said...

Angie- Thanks for stopping by!

Pamela, yes, character growth is a must. And you're right One of the greatest joys of writing is getting to know so many fascinating people

Barbara- Ditto.

Lia-Thank you!

Lisa-Thanks! Layers are def good. Ha love Shrek!

Sheri- Thank you so much, Sheri!

Jessica- So true! It's best to not add people's names in dialogue since we naturally don't do this.

Karen Cioffi said...

Mart, useful post. Good point that the interactions between the MC and the other characters in the story will help reveal the different qualities that make up the MC.

Martha Ramirez said...

Thanks, Karen!

Zee Monodee said...

Show the character with his/her group of friends - watch those interactions. They can convey a lot about who he/she is. :)

Great post, Mart!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Mart! Thanks for sharing. The picture at the top of the post is cute.

Martha Ramirez said...


Debbie Dillon said...

This is great info and I found it very helpful because it forced me to ask these questions about the characters in my wip :) Thanks so much!

Martha Ramirez said...

Thank you for stopping by!