Back to Basics: 3 Steps To Character

Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Character


To kick start the new year, we’re getting back to the core basics of fiction writing – plot, character, and setting.  This week, our focus is on character.

In Essence

In essence, a character is looking for something outside of herself and in that search finds something, an undeniable truth, inside of herself.  The character is facing external obstacles as well as internal tension.

OK, so how does it work?

Let’s work on the example from last week:  A spoiled but insecure young woman is looking to win back her ex-boyfriend whom she believes she still loves. But what she realises over time is that she actually trying to avoid facing the mess her party-going life.

When her ex-boyfriend tells her that he moved on because she ‘never grew up’, she realises that she never got over the fact that her father left the family when she was younger and compensated for his absence with gifts and money. She has to stand on her own.

In creating inner tension and outside conflict, you are set to create a well-rounded character who changes, learns, grows throughout the story or novel.

3 Ways To Get Started

  1. Write 50-100 words on each of these character elements: your character’s dreams, needs, and fears.
  2. In the above example, the character’s dream is to reunite with her ex-boyfriend, her need is to grow up and have goals for herself, and her fear is that people she loves will abandon her.
  3. Add these elements to the synopsis that you wrote last week; tweak them so that the plot and character elements match or merge to make your story work.

‘Great fiction is fuelled by bad decisions and human weakness.’ –Kristen Lamb

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Plot
  2. Write Your Novel In A Year
  3. The 6 Best Scenarios For Your Holiday Story

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