Creating a Vibrant Character Your Readers Will Love
by Rachel L. Smith
As a novelist and writer, I am always hoping for a reader to come back to me and say, “Wow, your character jumped right off the pages. I feel like I know them so well. I love them.” More often than not, readers don’t give that effusive of feedback but every writer is searching for that feeling.
Too often for my liking, I’ve gone back and reread my novel or my short story and felt that the character in my head didn’t quite make it on to the page. I can’t even give myself that praise. I struggled with this for a while and then I stumbled across a technique that’s helped change all that.
Write stories for your character. The twist is that the stories are not your story. Don’t add a chapter in your novel or continue your short story. Write a story that describes them outside of your creative work. If you want them to be a character that loves jazz, write a short glimpse of them in a jazz club. Especially if jazz or music is not a central focus because it allows you to see their reaction, their creative side, their joy. These tendencies and interests will crop up in other ways throughout your story and you’ll be able to incorporate them much more smoothly while adding depth to your character.
Let me explain a bit more. By creating small glimpses of your character’s life, with no actual importance to your plot at hand, you get a view into your character that will help color the rest of your writing. You add character quirks, traits, and flaws that you might not have thought to give them. You have a full person, who maybe hates peas, laughs at puns, dislikes her toenail shape, thinks the gym always smells weird, whose couch is just a little too short. None of these details are probably going to move your plot forward but they do fill your character in.
This is a tactic I’ve been using with great success in my novel, Asena, which I’m writing chapter by chapter on my website. She’s a tough PI, but I want to make sure her lighter side still comes through and that her entire personality isn’t just being a detective. I have stories for her where she helps out a college friend, she goes to a party, talks about her parent issues with her friend, makes dinner for a date. None of these scenes will show up in my novel. But I know my character much better and therefore, when writing her, I write much more realistic and full character development for her and her supporting cast.
I know that you probably have a beautiful, vibrant, exciting, fully 3-D character running around in your head. Now let us, your readers, see them fully by giving them life outside the pages of your story.
Today’s guest post was written by the wonderful Rachel L. Smith. To support her, please go check out her site at rachelsmithwriting.com.
Rachel Smith is a freelance writer and novelist living in Michigan. When she isn’t sitting at a keyboard, she enjoys spending time with her husband, hiking the great outdoors, and traveling. As a coffee enthusiast, wordsmith, and a great fan of puns, Rachel is suited to a writer’s lifestyle and is excited to keep bringing thrilling stories to her readers.