Much thought has been devoted to developing fiction characters. The common thought? Regardless of how you think up a character, you need to know more than you reveal to the reader. Use the following ten points for preliminary characterization.
Type of Character. You will have several types of characters for your novel. You will likely think up a character that fits within one of the following types: main, minor, hero or heroine, lead (one around which the book is based), opposition, confidant, love interest.
Relationship to lead character. If it is the lead character, then just write “lead”.
Occupation. There is no need to think up a character with a great job. If you want your character to be identifiable to an average reader, give the character an average job. In fact, your character may be recently out of a job, or not eligible to work (e.g., child or physically disabled).
Family. When you think up a character’s family, consider the family to which the character belongs (e.g., brothers, sisters, parents). Also, consider whether or not the character is married or has children or pets.
Physical description. Physical abnormalities, including speech, add interest. Think up a character who is like the average person, because of or in spite of their physical shortcomings. Especially if you want a particular character to be likeable.
Outlook. Think up a character with a view on religion, politics, life, etc.
Mannerisms. When you think up a character, remember to consider possible mannerisms. For example, dragging feet when walking, slouching when sitting, or popping bubble gum.
Strengths. Think up a character strength that is realistic.
Weaknesses. When you think up a character with a weakness, you have a good chance of playing on the reader’s sympathy and making the character likeable, regardless of what type of character you are creating.
Background. Think up a character with a background. Where did he or she grow up? Did he or she have many friends as a child? No real person comes out of thin air, and neither should your character.
The more you know about your character, the more you will be able to shape the character’s actions, dialogue, and thoughts to carry the theme of your book in a natural manner. Your literary agent and your readers will notice when you have taken the time to think up a character which they can imagine as real.
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