Writing group

7 tips to creating great characters and 3 things to avoid

Characters. Arguably one of the most important aspects of a novel, if not the most important.

Because sometimes the plot of a story is great, but if you don’t like the protagonist, why would you want to keep following their journey?


Here are 7 tips to creating great characters and 3 things you should definitely avoid.



1. Give them a history

Where were they born? What was their childhood like? Who are their family and friends? How close are they to them? Are there any important memories your character has?


2. Give them flaws.

No one is perfect. What are their annoying or bad habits? What aspect about them can be seen as negative?  Are they absent minded or pessimistic? There has to be something to help cause some conflict personal or otherwise.


3. Give them clear motivations.

What do they want in life? Do they have a dream? What motivates them within their story to keep going? Does that motivavtion change as they do?


4. Give them opinions

Likes and dislikes. They can be basic- chocolate or vanilla, or more complex. Are they political in any way? Do they like their city or their friends or their past? Do their personal opinions effect the plot?


5. Give them a complex personality

No one is just happy and positive, or sarcastic and negative. Everyone has a base personality, but remember that this can change depending on the situation. People act differently when faced with danger, or confrontation.


6. Give them conflict with secondary characters

If everyone get’s along, even in a group of friends, thats boring. Conflict happens all the time. If you keep interaction with secondary characters as real as possible with arguements of differences of opinion it will make the characters seem more real.


7. Give them doubts

Everyone has doubts sometime or the other. ‘Maybe that person doesn’t like me’, ‘i’m not doing this right,’ ‘this is my fault.’ Injecting a little of this in your story at opportune moments can help the reader feel for your character and bring them to life.




1. Make them do everything

Mary Sue’s and Gary Sue’s are overdone. Characters doing something right the first time, or being extra special compared to everyone else for no reason, or everyone likes them ‘just because’ is not realistic.


2. Make them a stereotype

Not all POC are gansta, not all Asians are super smart, not all characters with glasses are nerds. Anyone can be anything so don’t feel the need to resort to what you have seen in order to create characters.


3. Make them a cliche

You’ve got the YA female protagonist who thinks she’s just average but is in fact really pretty, her nerdy best friend who is in love with her and the new bad boy in town she can’t stop staring at.

Characters you’ve seen before and because they work, they keep getting used. Try to avoid using cliche characters or put your own spin on them and make it new. readers get tired of the same tropes if they see them all the time.


Have you got any tips for creating characters? Share them in the comments below!

Good thoughts and happy writing.






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