HOW TO WRITE AUTHENTIC CHARACTERS
Writing authentic characters is an extremely important part of developing your novel and telling the story to the reader. It doesn’t matter what genre your novel falls under, whether it be romance or fantasy, the reader needs to be able to connect with your characters.
What are authentic characters? Let’s start with what authentic means; genuine or real, not false or copied in any way. By adding characters behind that definition you have a character that is real, not a Mary Sue or cliché but a believable, convincing, and original.
How can you do this? There are a number of ways to make your character/s authentic, but let’s check out the main tips and strategies you should focus on.
ORIGINAL YET UNIQUE
As I stated above, authentic means genuine or real, not false or copied. When I refer to original, however, that doesn’t mean you should create a character that represents the cliché stereotypes you find in other novels. Original means unique to you and your story.
Take Harry Potter for example. J.K. Rowling created a young, dark haired boy with green eyes and shabby clothes. Anyone can create a character like this, so what makes Harry so special? You got it, folks, his lightning bolt scar, individual and unique only to his character.
What attributes should you focus on when trying to create an original yet unique authentic character. Check them out below:
- The character’s eyes.
- The character’s stature.
- Other facial features.
- Distinguishing features on the body.
RELATED: How to Name Your Character
MAKE THEIR VOICES REAL
Developing and writing authentic characters involves giving them a real and genuine voice. If you have one main character, several, or a narrator, then each specific POV (point of view) should reflect the character’s inner thoughts and feelings.
To support creating an original voice, dialogue can help create distinctive characters. How do you use dialogue to your advantage? Make the speech as real as possible. If you want to create an authentic character, then they have to speak as though they are real people. Another way to use dialogue to better use is to ensure that the speech reflects the character’s backstory and personality. No one speaks the same in real life.
Other helpful tips to creating an authentic voice are:
- The age of your character.
- The social status of your character.
- Does the character use slang?
- Development of the character throughout the story.
MAKE THEIR STORY RELATEABLE
This is a super important one, my fellow writers. Has anyone seen Game of Thrones? What am I kidding, almost everyone has! In Game of Thrones, there are two very important higher powers that rule over the kingdom of Westeros; the crown and the faith. As Queen Cersei Lannister states:
‘The faith and the crown are the two pillars that hold up this world. One collapses, so does the other.’
The same goes for your story’s arc and your characters. If you are going to create authentic characters, then your story needs to reflect the same realism. This doesn’t mean that if you are writing a fantasy novel you can’t have magic and the sort still in it. Of course, you can.
What I mean by making your story authentic is to use real life situations. Naturally, the hero isn’t always going to succeed, or the guy doesn’t always get the girl. By being authentic it creates more tension and truth. Essentially, it is more convincing.
SHOW CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT
As we grow through life, we change due to the choices we make and the various aspects of the world we experience. The same should go for your characters. If your character happens to undergo a traumatic incident, then they aren’t going to walk away unscathed. If your character is a bad boy who falls for a wonderful woman, then his attitude towards the world may take a change for the better.
Your characters should be affected by the events that take place around them, the character they meet along the way, and the good and bad things that affect them personally.
What are some attributes that show or change character development?
If your character grows throughout the journey, change their dialogue to fit the age. Change your character’s beliefs. Have the surroundings impact your character. Events leave lasting impacts. Other characters influence your MC.
Haven’t really got to know your characters yet? Or maybe you have but not as well as you would like. Here, take my free THE EPIC GUIDE TO CHARACTER QUESTIONNAIRES and get down and dirty with your characters in 213 questions!
All finished. Let’s chat!
Congrats, fellow writers. You are one step closer to creating authentic characters and strengthening your story!
Let me know if How to Write Authentic Characters treated you well, and if you think there is anything missing that you would like to learn about.
Hit me up in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!