Believable characters can make a lasting impact to readers and make a story much better. Unless your characters are believable and relatable, your audience will not find your work interesting. So how do you actually breathe life into your fictional characters? Here are some tips in creating believable characters.
- Observe different people.
By observing different kinds of people, you will have some ideas for the personalities and traits that you can integrate into your character. Take note of how people speak, behave, do their mannerisms, stutter, express themselves, and what verbal fillers they use. From these observations, you can choose which ones to incorporate—in short, imitate real people to make your characters seem real.
- Play with their personalities and characteristics.
If you want to make your characters realistic, you should never categorize them into purely “black” or “white”. By this I mean you should not make your protagonists all good, and your antagonists absolutely evil. Make them multidimensional—add layers into their personality. This is what will make them more appealing and bring a significant impact to your audience.
Play with their personalities—make them complex individuals and even add what seems like contradictions. For instance, your evil antagonist who beats the crap out of people and can kill mercilessly is extremely affectionate with animals.
On the other hand, your main protagonists must also have weaknesses and faults. Let them fail and allow the villains to win occasionally. This will stir up your readers’ minds and emotions. Moreover, this will also make your story less predictable and much more interesting.
- Establish individuality.
Just like in real life, people are different from one another. With this, if you want to make your characters realistic and recognizable, establish individuality and uniqueness. This will make your characters more alive.
Make sure that they are very different from one another—they have distinct voices, varying points of view, as well as beliefs and principles. For example, if one of your characters is a crackhead teenager and another one is a respected middle-aged professor, but the two thinks the same and have the same manner of speaking, you are definitely doing it wrong. If necessary, don’t hesitate to make multiple revisions to ensure this.
Making your characters believable and interesting may seem like a challenging task at first. However, by performing the strategies I shared in this article, you will surely be able to do this much easier and more effectively. Always keep in mind that no matter how awesome your idea for your plot is, you won’t be able to execute it properly without great characters. Furthermore, your readers won’t stay interested if the characters are not multidimensional and believable.