Top 10 Character Building Tips.

The greatest characters of all time will vary depending on who you ask but I can guarantee they all have one thing in common. They are distinguishable from most others in the given story. There is always a feature or impediment that makes them unique.

These top 10 tips will help you develop your characters. Good luck and happy writing

  1. Clear Motivations that help develop the story. Characters want and need certain things and are highly motivated to achieve these goals. Having clear motivations help the reader to infer as to what the character is trying to accomplish.
  2. Unique Features or Traits. Could you pick your character out of a police line up? Well, you should be able to very easily by his or her description. Your description of him or her should bring to life vivid images of what the reader thinks they look like.
  3. Love em or Hate em. Develop your character with values or have him be the scum of the earth it’s up to you. Your readers should grow to develop strong feelings for them or be able to relate in one way or another.
  4. Use Secondary Characters as “Foils”  foil is a character who contrasts with another character —usually the protagonist— to highlight particular qualities of the other character.
  5. Create interesting dynamics between characters and environment.  Where does your character live, work or play? Do they love their home and miss it while away on a journey.
  6. Characters shouldn’t know every detail. Most of the time as a writer you need to separate yourself from your characters vision or train of thought.  They don’t need to know every detail of the past present and future of the story and most of the time shouldn’t.
  7. Use Contradictions. This makes characters more complex. For example, most grandmothers are loving and doting, but what if they are also manipulative and self-serving.
  8. Use characters’ names to convey subtle implications. Research baby names for example. That can give you a good idea of the meanings behind names and help you form their traits.
  9. Avoid Lazy Stereotypes. Stereotypes are at best are usually false and at worst offensive. While sometimes a writer may find humor in some. Authors must remain aware how others may view it.
  10.  Build With Dialog. Most dialog happens in scenes involving the plot and it should be used to advance the plot. But dialog can also be used to build characterization  “You should use what your subjects say – and how they say it – to show penchants for jargon, poor grammar and mispronunciation. Or meticulous pronunciation, even eloquent diction. Or pretension, sarcasm, humor, anger, fright, sadness, joy, impatience, frustration.” –

Remember there are many tools a writer can use to help develop your characters. Some more difficult than others but all are very useful.



Justin Marsh

Website Administration, IT

Leave a Reply