Building an Unforgettable Character
Character building is one of my favorite parts of writing a novel. I love seeing where they’re going to take me and where their journey is going to end up. Even though I plot extensively before starting a new novel, I always leave room for the characters to lead me somewhere new.
So, what’s the secret to building an unforgettable character? Here are some tips to lead you in the right direction:
They need to be relatable
If your audience can’t relate to your character, that’s usually a huge problem. We relate to characters like Harry Potter not because we’ve been to Hogwarts and practiced magic, but because we can relate to his pain and to his connection with his friends. He represents emotions that a lot of us have struggled with and he doesn’t quite feel like he fits in. His struggle to find himself is relatable.
Take some time to figure out what your character ultimately represents and don’t be afraid to bring emotion into it. We want to feel connected to your characters and we want to find something in them that matches something in us.
They need to be realistic
It’s important that your character’s actions should remain realistic. Not in the sense of remaining true to our world, but to theirs. Their actions should make sense in context to what they’re going through. If you’re constantly questioning why a character would do something because it just doesn’t make logical sense, you’ll have trouble respecting that character. It’s important that we understand their actions.
They need to be proactive
A good character is a go-getter. I’m not saying they will always make the right decisions or that they’re all good people, but all main characters/protagonists should be able to do things on their own. I’m also not saying they don’t need help, but they need to overcome the big challenges on their own or through what they’ve learned. They can’t just stand around waiting for everyone else to finish things. They need to take initiative at some point, and this should be due to their personal growth throughout the story.
I understand that this point does depend on the story you’re writing. Maybe your character is an unmotivated person. Maybe they’re lazy. This usually doesn’t matter because a story isn’t interesting if that person remains inactive. They can have periods of inactivity and become unmotivated during parts of your story, but ultimately that does need to change at some point.
They need to have flaws
Flaws will humanize your character and are usually what stands in your character’s path to success. A character that does everything right all the time and doesn’t have any growth because they’re already perfect is VERY BORING. They should fail and they should learn lessons. I’m not saying all their flaws should be fixed by the end of the novel because that’s not how people operate in real life, but character flaws should help build interesting layers.