How Do I Write Realistic Characters?

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  margery65w 3 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #346920

    Anonymous

    Hello, thanks for taking the time to read my post cause I reaallyy need help on this.

    I want to know how to make realistic characters. Fictional people that you can relate with and who have emotions and personality and motives. How do I build something like that?

    Where do I start? Do I first come up with a story and produce characters that will go along with it? Or do I first come up with characters and let their backgrounds/situations make a story?

    Following up on that, how do I choose the kind of characters I want? For example, the Twilight series. Having seen one of the movies, I ask myself “why make Bella awkward and attracted to vampires? Why is she not confident and happens to hate vampires instead?”.
    Why would the author choose the former over the latter? Why make it that way? What does that do to the story? Is it all about what outcome you want?

    Again, thanks for any help. I have so many other questions to ask but I’m going to quit before I make a mess of confusion.

  • #655851

    Anonymous

    Ohkla wrote:
    > I want to know how to make realistic characters. Fictional people that you
    > can relate with and who have emotions and personality and motives. How do I
    > build something like that?
    >

    You make realistic characters by basing them on real people you have known or read about. Now, that doesn’t mean taking a person you know and putting them in the story – it simply means you base your characters on your knowledge of how people act and react. You then expand that knowledge to decide how your characters will act/react in the circumstances of your story.

    In other words, don’t think of them as characters. Think of them as people.

    > Where do I start? Do I first come up with a story and produce characters
    > that will go along with it? Or do I first come up with characters and let
    > their backgrounds/situations make a story?
    >

    Here you’re talking about whether the story is plot-driven or character-driven. In the former, the plot determines how the characters act/react – they are secondary to what needs to happen to complete the story. In the latter, the plot is secondary to learning about the characters, and the reader follows them more than the plot. Bear in mind, primary and secondary focus can be very evenly divided or weighted heavily on one versus the other. Which one you choose depends on the story you want to tell.

    > Following up on that, how do I choose the kind of characters I want? For
    > example, the Twilight series. Having seen one of the movies, I ask myself
    > “why make Bella awkward and attracted to vampires? Why is she not
    > confident and happens to hate vampires instead?”.
    > Why would the author choose the former over the latter? Why make it that
    > way? What does that do to the story? Is it all about what outcome you want?
    >

    You choose the characters you want based on the story you want to write. What does the plot demand? What kind of characters will allow you to reach the ending you want? On the other hand, what do your characters want? What do they need? What needs to happen in the story to fulfil that – if they are fulfilled.

    In the end, you decide what kind of story you want to write based on which idea you’re most excited about, whether it’s a plot idea or a character. Then, leave the “how do I” questions and just tell the story. Trust me – you’ll write many, many stories before you figure out what works best for you as a writer. But you have to write them first.

  • #655852

    maxiuomc48
    Participant

    Ohkla wrote:
    > Hello, thanks for taking the time to read my post cause I reaallyy need
    > help on this.
    >
    >
    > Following up on that, how do I choose the kind of characters I want? For
    > example, the Twilight series. Having seen one of the movies, I ask myself
    > “why make Bella awkward and attracted to vampires? Why is she not
    > confident and happens to hate vampires instead?”.
    > Why would the author choose the former over the latter? Why make it that
    > way? What does that do to the story? Is it all about what outcome you want?
    >
    >
    > Again, thanks for any help. I have so many other questions to ask but I’m
    > going to quit before I make a mess of confusion.

    Hi Ohkla.

    In my opinion, readers identify (or relate) with a character when they see something of themselves (or their past self) in the character.

    I think only the original author, Stephenie Meyer, could accurately answer why she made her characters the way they are.

    But, I do have a theory.

    The character, Bella, is attracted to vampires because the author is writing a vampire romance.

    The character, Bella, is awkward for two reasons:

    1.) An awkward young woman and older women who were awkward in their younger days, will be able to identify with an awkward young female character.

    2.) An awkward character can have a growth arc (character arc) in which the character can grow from being awkward to not being awkward.

    And as to why the character, Bella, isn’t confident and happen to hate vampires…I have a theory about that also.

    It would have been possible to make the character, Bella, confident and happen to hate vampires, but it would have changed the relationship between Bella and the primary love interest in the romance story.

  • #655853

    Just a general comment to try to help: One thing that’s always worked for me is to try to put a little of my own identity – and personal experiences – into a character. It can be anything from just a small facet of your own self – a phobia, an aspiration, a life changing event – to shape the personality of the character.

    If you have trouble getting yourself into this groove, first names don’t necessarily need to be changed “to protect the innocent.” They can always be changed later once you’ve reached your goal.

    Good luck!

  • #655854

    margery65w
    Participant

    Ohkla wrote:

    > I want to know how to make realistic characters. Fictional people that you
    > can relate with and who have emotions and personality and motives. How do I
    > build something like that?
    >

    Base them on people you know for the features that fit your story. How would they react to a given situation. Do not copy them but use them as models.

    You might also want to see some of the checklists for describing characters and fill out the items that are appropriate to your character.

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