A well-written story is usually about a person who, for the period of time the story lasts, is worth writing about.  He/she is real, interesting and engages the reader.


In the search for interesting characters, the beginning writer must beware of two weaknesses = copying a character directly from life instead of selecting the characteristics that make him seem real and believable; and using stock, stereotyped characters.You can base them on people you have known, but when they appear on paper, they should be a composite of several … select qualities and traits and add to them the characteristics or physical attributes of another.

  Stay away from the mousy librarian, the absent-minded professor and the prostitue with the heart of gold.  Avoid stock characters by not thinking about people as stereotypes.  Your character also has invisible attributes – memories, ideas, feelings, emotions and virtues.  Try to be consistent – a character can change of course, but the change must be motivated.  No-one exists in a vacuum – remember the envirtonment.  Somthing can take place in August that would never have happened in December.  We are all affected by the seasons in some way – how we dress, our leisure activities, if it’s holiday time etc.


The character’s words and actions  explain his behaviour better than a long explanation.  Dialogue is very important, so train yourself to listen ; and dialogue between two characters can also introduce and interpret the personality of a third person you may want to introduce.

Another way of projecting character is by simple narration, showing what someone did and how he did it; how he drives on  a freeway; the way he eats his breakfast; how he walks his dog; his behaviour when he’s drunk too much; how he plays with his children; his actions when he is with his wife etc.  Also add color by describing what he wears, what he values.   You will need to know a lot more about your characher than you are going to write down … the more you understand his background, family, education, experiences before he comes into the story, the more realistic he will emerge.  Happy writing.

If you want to read any of my 13 published books, be in touch with me at  and I’ll tell you where to get them.







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