Writing fiction is fun, especially creating characters. You’re their creator, so your story people can be anything you’d like them to be. You can write about heart surgeons, astronauts, exotic dancers, cowboys… You get to live a whole new life with your characters.
Beware of making your characters too perfect however. Perfection isn’t for human beings.
Check the main character in your current project. Does he or she have faults? Excellent. As we said in Love Me, Love My Flaw, character flaws are fun to write:
“(they) can make your short story or novel. I enjoy creating cynical, snarky characters, and characters with a short fuse. Think about your favorite story characters, and their flaws.”
Make sure they have flaws. 🙂
How to create a character: create a flaw, and a problem
Let’s say that you’re writing a humorous mystery novel. Your main character owns a diner in her small town. She’s wonderful. Everyone loves her.
Stop… NO. Everyone doesn’t love her. That’s impossible. And worse — it’s boring.
Give her a flaw. Maybe she’s the eldest of a large family. Her mother died when your character was 12. Her father’s an alcoholic. She and her five siblings were forced to raise themselves. It wasn’t easy. It’s made her intolerant of anyone who’s lazy, and who cuts corners. So she regularly fires staff who let her down. She won’t give anyone a second chance.
As your story begins, she’s just fired her third cook in six months. She’s doing all the cooking herself. She’s not in a good mood.
Can you see that by making your character imperfect, you’ve made the character more interesting? And you’ve given your character challenges, which is always good.
Her problem is: no cook.
Of course, her real problem is that she hasn’t come to terms with her childhood, and that will keep causing problems, until she sees that in herself.
Then, start the story
Once you’ve got a main character, and a problem, you can start your story. You’re writing a humorous mystery, so someone dies. Let’s say that the cook your character fired yesterday is found dead. In his boss’s kitchen. That is, in your main character’s home. Someone’s brained him with a Le Creuset cast iron fry pan.
It wasn’t your heroine, even though she had a ferocious row with him before she fired him.
Your story’s off and running. All you need to do is work out who killed the cook, and why. Also why he’s in his boss’s kitchen. You’ll need to show that your main character comes to an understanding of herself too, by the end of your humorous mystery.
No one’s perfect: create flawed characters
When you create a character flaw, make it plausible, and make it something with which your readers can empathize.
In the humorous mystery above, readers will understand why your character is the way she is. They’ll empathize, and they’ll like your character.
Creating characters in fiction is fun. Just remember that each character has a flaw, and a problem, before your kick off the main action of your story.
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.More info →
Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month.More info →
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