The Write Path: Part Three—Creating Characters

The last two weeks, I have talked about forming an idea and then expanding upon that initial idea. This week I’ll be talking about yet another important part of the story writing process: creating characters. 

A character is something tricky. It can be really tough sometimes to make all of your characters different from each other, but take a look at the people around you. Not everyone in real life is exactly the same. If you have an idea of the kind of character(s) you want in your story, look at the people around you and take attributes from them and apply them to your characters. 

If you have a character who is really adventurous, try to find people who are adventurous and ask yourself what you see in those people that you think could be a good fitting attribute for your character. 

You also need to make your character’s story interesting. You want your audience invested in their journey. The plot of your story should naturally affect the characters’ lives. 

Your protagonists and antagonist(s) need to have a goal or even multiple goals, but their goals need to interfere with each other to create conflict—either that or the way they go about achieving their goal. A very basic example of this is maybe your main character is trying to get something that is very dangerous so they can protect it and keep it from the wrong hands, but your antagonist is trying to get the same thing to use it to destroy. That creates conflict. 

A character arc is another thing that can be tough to do, but don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. For starters, the main character must have a want and a need. The difference between the two is quite easy to understand. The want a character has is not necessarily what is best for that character or the well-being of others. The need, however, is the right thing to do. If you still don’t understand, let me give an example. 

In Spider-Man Homecoming, Peter Parker wants to go to homecoming with Liz, but he needs to stop the Vulture instead. He can’t do both at the same time. He needs to choose one or the other, and his need is clearly what he should do. It may not fulfill his personal wants, but it’s what’s best for the well-being and safety of others. Even despite Tony Stark telling him to stay out of this, Peter decides to do what’s right and stop the Vulture. 

If you aren’t going to incorporate this want vs. need thing into your story, then your main character better be EXTREMELY motivated to accomplish his goal. If your character isn’t, it’s safe to say that it won’t be a very exciting character. In fact, without either of those, your character will be very boring and no one will care enough to stick around and see what happens next.

I hope this helps you in your story writing journey. Next week, I’ll talk about how to write a climax and conclusion. 

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