Tips on Writing a Novel: Character Building

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Shaping a character can be time consuming and involves a lot of thought. What do they look like? What is their complexion? What is their eye shape? What are their personality traits? Do they have any disorders? What is their education? How do they deal with their emotions? What does their voice sound like? What is their main weakness? Are they an introvert or an extrovert? There are many questions that need to be answered before you can start writing. Knowing your characters fully helps you to see them clearly, and this will reflect in your writing.

The first step to develop a character is to write a summary of everything you know about your character so far. Some characters you may know thoroughly before you start writing, others may be strangers. Novelist Sue Harrison states that “if a character is foggy to me as a writer, he or she will be foggy to the reader as well.”

Villains are especially important to create well. If you find yourself absolutely loathing a bad guy, you know the writer has done a good job in creating them. Also villains or corrupt characters should have some reason for their behavior. Avoid making them bad for no reason, try showing a genetic or social influence. And remember, secondary characters, or characters that only appear once or twice have to be just as well- built as your main characters, otherwise they won’t seem like real, believable people, more so just props.


How important is a characters name? Names have to sound and feel right for the character. Sometimes this takes a lot of mulling over, other times it just comes easily. Many writers have put a lot of thought and detail into their characters names. For example, the names JK Rowling uses are significant, and have a degree of historical and literary allusion. Sometimes the characters secrets are in their name.

For example:


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