Tip 3. Understand Your Characters

by richard on March 3, 2011

farmer Tip 3. Understand Your Characters

This post relates to my blog series on the top ten tips to writing a novel. Visit my archives to see the full list, and other relevant postings.

Characters in books are generally larger than life. They need to be in order to grab and hold your reader’s attention. They can be based on real people, or an amalgam of individuals, but they should have more eccentricities, more paranoia, higher hopes, loftier dreams, etc.

To make your characters realistic, you need to know how they will react to any given situation. Will they be angry? Will they laugh? Will it not even register?

It’s a good idea to write a bio on each of your major characters, outlining their history, likes and dislikes, aspirations, issues, addictions and obsessions. I like to identify a movie star whom I think would play the part well, and use that as a visual guide to the person. I even put a picture of that star on the bio sheet. It makes it a lot easier to be able to look at that sheet and ask the question: ‘How would Kate react to that bit of news? Would she be excited to go hang gliding, or terrified?’

Your readers need to be able to identify with your characters on some level. They don’t have to like them, but they have to accept their behaviour as being consistent with whom they are. And to be able to do that, you need to know your characters better than anyone else.

Richard Jagger formerly worked in the biotechnology industry, and has completed his first novel “The Cure”. Apart from writing his second novel, he works as a professional photographer. He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and one joint painting exhibition. Further information can be found at www.richardjagger.com

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Previous post:

Next post: