Characters are obviously the most important part of your story – you can have a ridiculous plot, but if the characters are lovable and interesting, people will keep reading. So, with that in mind, creating real and interesting characters is super important to your story. Here is a list of questions that has always helped me with creating characters and will hopefully help you as well.
- First of all: what does your character want? Your character needs motivation, so they need to want something. Remember, it’s the same with your villain. In most cases, the villain doesn’t especially want to torture you’re main character. What usually happens, is the villain wants to accomplish something, so does something about it, and a trail of events leads them to eventually torture your main character (all for the purpose of that original want).
- What is one secret your character has? Remember, everyone has secrets, whether it’s something silly and embarrassing, like spilling a drink yourself, or something more sinister…
- What is one (or a few) of your character’s fears? Again, everyone has fears. What is your character afraid of during your story? What could they lose, or have happen?
- Why is your character as involved in the story as they are? Were they dragged into it, do they feel strongly about the cause, do they think they can make a difference? Why are they saving the world, or fighting for freedom, or walking right into the face of danger?
- What does your character believe in? Do they believe in any religion, do they believe in nothing, or are they unsure? Emotional ties, whether to a belief, or a person, or to an idea, are what rule most people. We do things mostly because of emotions and feelings. Example: Character loves someone and therefore puts themselves in great peril just to save the person they love, even though all common sense tells them it’s impossible and they will most likely die. They aren’t listening to logic, they’re listening to feelings.
- Who does your character love? Any parents, family, love interests, friends?
- List five little traits about your character. People are made up of little things just as much as they are made up of big things. Maybe your character loves raspberries or sings opera in the shower.
- List one, or a few, little quirks your character has. Everyone has weird little things they do. Is your character somewhat OCD about certain things? Maybe they have an obsession with the color green, or can’t stand to have their hair in their face, so they always wear it back.
- What are three flaws your character has? Are they easily distracted, do they hate to follow rules?
- What are three strengths your character has? Maybe your character is very brave, or maybe a skilled swimmer.
- What makes your character happy?
- What makes your character sad or upset?
- Does your character have any hobbies?
- Name a life event of your character’s and how it shaped who they are. Example: Character was in a bad car accident as a young child. Result – character is 16 and is now afraid to get their license and drive.
- How will your character develop throughout the course of the story? In most YA novels, the character starts out more innocent and by the end they’ve matured (or forced to mature by the circumstance of their story). Explain how they will change. Will they harden and become stronger? More caring? More understanding?
- What is the one thing that your character thinks about the most? It could be a person, a thing, something they need to do, etc.
By the way, this should be done for villains as well as main characters. For a story to be believable (and super good!) your villain needs to be just as developed, if not more so, than your main character.
Hope this helps and good luck!