Creating characters that resonate with your readers, characters that are three dimensional – in other words credible characters – is not always easy. But it can lead you down interesting and unexpected pathways and forge a bond between author and character. Sometimes that bond means the character thinks he or she is writing the story.
That’s what happened with the main character in my Beyond mystery series – PI Dana Bowman. Maybe it’s because as part of my book promo she comes to life when I dress up as her for presentations in libraries,cafes and the like.
I have to keep reminding Dana that is is my name, not hers, on the book cover as the author.
And we really are not alike, so not the same person – as I keep telling Dana.
Here’s a character comparison of us on my website
So how do you create credible characters? Do they suddenly appear in your head? Sometimes. Sometimes you get your plot first
Characters can come from real life, your imagination or by osmosis. Here are a few pointers
If you create a character from real life, make sure you use the real person as only a kicking-off point – perhaps how they look, perhaps one distinctive characteristic and create from there.
Don’t steal other authors’ characters – evenly loosely disguised as your so-called character.
Personal experience and knowledge can help in creating and developing characters. but remember you are creating fictional characters for fiction, not writing a memoir.
An oxymoron – fictional characters must come across as real characters, real people, so readers can connect to them.
Once created, characters don’t remain static – they evolve; they change, even in just one short story, and more so in novels, especially series novels.
I have lots more info on this and will be teaching a workshop on Creating Compelling Characters this Sunday, November 5, from 2 p,m. to 4 p.m. with the Toronto Writers Circle at the Toronto Reference area. It is free and open to the writing public. Here is the library info about the group and location. If you live in the general area you might like to join us.
And here is my latest Beyond mystery book. Click on it for more info
Sharon A. Crawford