The Beginner's Guide To Creating Memorable Characters

The Beginner’s Guide To Creating Memorable Characters


We all want to create memorable characters when we write. We want the reader to think about them for years after they’ve finished reading our books. We do this by creating nuanced, three-dimensional people.

These characters are essential, because without them, we would not have novels. We would have essays. Memorable characters allow us to imagine, to think, and to rationalise. They allow us to experience their lives vicariously.

Our main characters control our book. A novel, which consists of a plot, scenes, and settings, cannot move forward without characters. As Lajos Egri wrote in The Art of Dramatic Writing, a character is three-dimensional.

The three dimensions of characters are: 

  1. The Physiological
  2. The Sociological
  3. The Psychological

Before you start to write your book:

  1. Create a physiological biography for all of your main characters. This shows their basic features and functioning. Don’t leave anything out as you may have to cross-reference later. Include detailed physical descriptions.
  2. Create a sociological biography of your characters. This should show how they relate to their world. How have physical circumstances affected them? Were they born poor or rich? Were they well educated? Where did they grow up?
  3. Create a psychological biography for them. What happened in their past to define their psyches? Their feelings, moods, rationalisation and thought procedures are held here. Decide what the ruling passions of your main characters are and remember them. Life experiences shape and mould all of us. This provides motive and focus for your characters.

Resources

If you are looking for in-depth character questionnaires, please have a look at these:

  1. The Only Character Questionnaire You Need to Complete
  2. 127 Prompts To Finish Before You Write About Yourself (Or Any Character)
  3. Character Questionnaire – How Well Do You Know Your Hero?
  4. Character Development Checklist – 13 Points To Consider

If you’re looking for questionnaires with a twist, read these:

  1. 15 Questions Authors Should Ask Characters
  2. 7 Useful Lists To Help You Create A Character
  3. Proust’s Questionnaire – 35 Questions Every Character Should Answer
  4. 5 Truly Unusual Ways To Round Out Your Characters

If you’re looking for a basic list, read this:

  1. Character Interview – A Worksheet For Beginners

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by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this article, read:

  1. 7 Secrets To Writing Happy Characters Without Boring Your Audience
  2. 10 Things To Consider When Naming Characters
  3. 94 Questions For The Characters We Create

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.