How To: Create a Fictional Character


Whether you are writing a short story, a play or a novel your creative writing projects will require outstanding characters. There are many ways you can create a character that will have a profound impact on your readers or audience whether your character is central to the plot or a supplement to the ideas you are presenting in your work. Either way, taking time to develop a three dimensional character will pay off as believable characters will engage your readers in your story.

Things You'll Need

  • Journal or notebook
  • Writing instrument
  • Access to images
  • Picture your character. Creative writing often starts with images. Try browsing through art books that feature portraits. Family photos, magazines and the Internet are great resources for finding inspiring faces.

  • Include details other than physical details in your picture of your character. The visual image of your fictional character is just one aspect. There are many other details that you can include. How does this person sound? What scents come to mind? What about the feel of his skin, hair and clothes?

  • Write who you know. Successful creative writing projects often begin with real life inspiration. You can create a character that is a combination of traits and features of people you have met.

  • Build the personality beyond the story. The fictional character that you create should have a past and a future. Get as many details in your head about this person as you can for your creative writing project.

  • Write a character sketch. This process is helpful in getting a deeper perspective on the persona. The character sketch does not have to be an integral part of the story. The purpose is to build a realistic being for the story.

  • Add details in the character sketch that may include a physical description and your character's career and hobbies. You may also want to include your character's hopes and fears. If you like, go further back in your character's life and include her history and family in your character sketch. You may also want to add detail about her flaws. These suggestions are in no way comprehensive. Add anything that helps you understand the character better to your character sketch.

  • Avoid stereotypes in your creative writing to make your fictional character more realistic. For example, a bully can be an adorable little girl instead of a thick-necked thug with a bulldog face. Include realistic positive and negative traits. A villain that evokes sympathy is far more powerful than a fiend that is rotten to the core.

Tips & Warnings

  • Draw a picture of your character if you like.
  • Eavesdrop on conversations for ideas.
  • Mix the good and the bad. Everyone has flaws.
  • Believe in your character.
  • Avoid using names of people you know without their consent.

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  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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