How do we create believable characters? There are about five million different tactics. Some writers prefer filling out personality tests, others conduct imaginary interviews, create playlists, establish fake Facebook accounts for their protagonists…the list is endless. So, let’s start with something simple. Believable characters are often the ones with the most specific, memorable personalities.
1) Generate a list of ten personality traits that describe who your character is at the beginning of the story.
2) Now think of at least one thing that could alter each trait. This could be an obstacle or an aid. For example: If your character is Passive or Timid, what is going to break them out of their shell? If they are Confident, what is going to cut that confidence down and make them doubt themselves for the first time?
3. Pick one trait and develop at least five more obstacles and aids. These should hover around whatever your character’s big Want in the story is. Develop on this.
PURPOSE: This will hopefully set things up so that as your character pursues their Want, a shift is occurring within themselves as well. They are stretching and adjusting who they are in order to get to the Want that is currently out of reach. The result should be a different (or more fully realized) protagonist as they reach the end of their journey, and ultimately approach their Want (whether or not they actually get it).