The main characters are the “action” of your story.
When people describe a wonderful book, they often talk about the perfect plot and excellent writing. They’ll go all deep with details about each sub-plot and what not.
But the most memorable part of a book is its characters, more specifically, the main characters. They leave an impression on the reader’s mind that is impossible to remove.
Your plot moves the story forward, but your main character moves your plot forward. So, to set your book journey in the right direction, your main characters have to be unforgettable. And to create them, their roles have to be clear.
Roles Of The Main Characters
- The main characters play an active role. May it be protagonist, antagonist, or any other active character.
- Your main characters are involved in the story’s plots and subplots.
- The conflicts in your book impact them directly or indirectly.
Make Them Believable
While writing your characters, make sure that they are believable and everything they do comes naturally. If they hate someone, give readers solid reasons why they hate them. Show the readers how they can’t control their flaws even after being aware of them.
Their decisions don’t have to be flawless. This might lead to a ‘perfect’ character, which makes them boring, and readers might not be ready to follow their journey throughout the whole book.
Impact on their behavior
We discussed above how your character has to change with the story and towards the end of the story; they develop in the direction you want them to. But development in their personality means ups and downs in their mental behavior.
When your character goes through the hurdles and problems, psychologically their behaviour can take any turn from negative to positive. The change in their behaviour wouldn’t be a sudden thing. It will be a slow process which might go unnoticed by the readers if they aren’t paying attention to the character’s actions and emotions.
The subtle changes should be in the places where they are noticeable but not obvious. Let the readers figure out the changes on their own pace instead of dumping them with all the changes in the character at the climax.
Give them dimensions
Your characters aren’t swords that you’ll take through melting, and they’ll fight your battles. They have dimensions of their own, just like your story has plots and subplots. Give them the outlines that they need.
Your main characters are readers’ senses, they watch and feel the story through these characters. Your characters can be simple or complex depending on their role and how much you challenge them. You’ll sharp and polish them with every new chapter and scene.
What To Avoid?
Every character has something unique to make them stand out. To get all the edges right, you have to eliminate some wrong angles. So let’s make sure that your characters aren’t full of flat materials.
Rude Just To Be Sassy
There’s a difference between not taking the shit that people throw at you and throwing shit at other people in the name of sass. A lot of new writers lost their track while writing a character that doesn’t take other’s shit.
The line gets blurry between rude and sassy and they end up creating a very unlikable character without intending. If your aim is to create a character that is visibly unlikable, then it’s okay to give them immature rudeness.
But don’t do it just to make your character look cool. The readers can see right through your characters. Your major goal is to create a character that they will root for no matter what.
Boring In The Name Of Wise
Creating a wise character is one of the easiest things to do, but creating a normal wise character whose entire personality isn’t just a wise persona, doesn’t sound easy.
The difficulty comes in balancing their “humanness” and wiseness without messing it. Most writers write a wise character whose wiseness overpower their humanity completely. Which leaves nothing to their personality except for being…you guessed it-wise.
Avoid making your wise characters boring by adding some quirks to them (avoid stereotypic quirks). A boring character, even if intended, is a poor choice for the main character. And readers don’t root for the characters that have nothing to provide in the name of personality.
The main character has to be active in the book, that’s how readers find their limits and breaking point. A passive character reacts to the conflict at hand but never takes actions of its own. A lot of new writers get confused between action and reaction of characters.
It’s not that the active main characters don’t react to the conflicts, they get out of traps too, just like passive characters, but they take actions against the conflict so that they won’t fall into the trap again. The main characters aren’t just supposed to be the victims of the situation (the antagonist can be a victim too), they should be able to mold the situations to their benefit.
Characters have flaws. Some flaws complete them, and readers appreciate them. Some flaws, however, make characters irritating and stupid. As the story evolves, your characters evolve with it, they realize their flaws and how to accept or change them.
But if the character is still the same at the end of the story instead of developing for good, then it leaves the readers with bitterness. We are all aware that change is the only constant. We change whether or not we want to. Put your characters through the same process.
Develop your characters with your plot. It doesn’t have to be an extreme change, but a change indeed. Maybe your character was rude to their mother for no apparent reason, but they grew internally as the story moves forward and they realized their mistakes and changed their attitude.
While you write your story, you’ll go through several drafts and editing processes and you’ll eliminate and add characters as you fill the plot holes. If you are writing your first book and seeking a step-by-step guide, check my blog post here. There are some things you’ll have to keep in mind while adding characters.
So, we have covered the thing you should do and shouldn’t while creating your character. In the end, I’ll only say that they are your characters, experiment with them, and make an impression on your reader’s mind.