Writing Help – Character Building

In this writing help blog post we will discuss character building. So how do you build characters? That’s a pretty interesting question. Obviously you will want to get down what they look like, and stuff like that, but you have to do much more to build a character than describe them outwardly, you also have to know them inwardly.

You should approach each one of your characters as if they are a living person. You want to convey to the reader that your character is as real as they are, that is what will hook the reader and make your characters lovable. You should know their home life, how they were raised, who raised them, what their interests are, and most importantly, you will want to know how they feel about certain things and how they think. What drives them? What makes them make the choices they make? Why do they make these choices?

This last one is most important because then you will know how your character will react to every situation you throw them into. If you know who they are, then they will lead you through the story, you won’t have to force them through it. If you are forcing a character, you don’t really know them. For instance, for Asher St Paul most things are black and white. You do certain things because that’s what is right, and you don’t do certain things because those things are bad, or wrong. There isn’t much gray area for him. He is learning, but he doesn’t like it. He has pretty high moral values, and is pretty stubborn on what he will and won’t do. Often if people try to get him to do something he doesn’t want to, they really have a struggle on their hands, and if he does it, he does it grudgingly.

Now, don’t forget that your characters are real people, so they should have faults along with virtues. In the above paragraph, you can see that Asher’s virtue is also his fault. He has such a moral high standing that he is frustrating because he seems almost too “good.” Often his good choices lead him into trouble, because he won’t do what other people are willing to do in a zombie apocalypse. But, he is learning, and there enters the character arc.

Of course, you don’t need to explain this to the readers. You shouldn’t go into a in depth description of your characters mental state, but it should be conveyed through how your character acts and through the glimpses of their back story.
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