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Creating Believable Characters

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Photo Credit: The Writing Champions Project


We have stories to tell. Within the foundation of these stories, believable characters must be born. It’s important to create strong and dynamic characters that can feel relatable. Outlining a novel of any genre can be a difficult process. To help break it down, start with the basics by identifying the protagonist, antagonist, and the relationship character.

The protagonist is the main character of the story. This individual has a goal or objective that is concrete and can be reached. At times in the story, they may seem larger than life. If that becomes the case, try adding a character flaw to make them more sympathetic and down to earth. Nobody likes Mr. Perfect.

The antagonist is the person who brings adversity to the story. This character’s goals are in direct conflict with the protagonist’s goals. They are often the villain of the story, but not always. When developing this character, I reach deep into the mind of the antagonist. Find the piece of them that stirs up an emotional reaction. The reader will connect to this in your story. While creating the antagonist, be brave enough to wear the black hat––and strong enough to take it off.

The relationship character is the person alongside the protagonist. They share wisdom and give insight into the problems and conflicts the protagonist is facing. If this causes a conflict, the protagonist and the relationship character often have reconciliation at the end of the story.

Once you have identified these characters, make them real. Here’s an exercise you can try. Imagine you’re on a date with the character you’re creating. I like to ask “what” questions:

● What do you want to know about them?

● What are their interests and why?

● What do you notice about them?

Try creating some of your own questions and answer them about your characters. When they feel real enough to describe, write it down. Keep it light and fun! Your story has just begun, and we can’t wait to read it.


Article originally published by The Writing Champions Project

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