Guest Post by Paula Judith Johnson

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Characters are the heart and soul of fiction, the driving force that captivates readers and draws them into the world of your story. To craft memorable characters, rather than just giving them names and physical descriptions, it is essential to give them depth, complexity, and authenticity.

Your characters should come across as real people with personalities, motivations, and flaws. What makes your characters tick, what drives their actions, and what fears or desires fuel their journey? By delving into their pasts, their hopes, and their dreams you can create fully fleshed-out characters your readers can connect with on a deep level.

It is important your characters undergo growth throughout the story. Just as in real life, your characters should evolve in response to their experiences. The challenges and conflicts of the narrative create opportunities to add layers to your characters’ personalities, making their journey more compelling for readers.

Make sure each character serves a purpose within your story that contributes to the overall narrative in a meaningful way. What are the goals and motivations of the protagonist, antagonist, and supporting characters? They should each have a distinct role to play that drives the plot forward.

Pay attention to the details that make your characters unique, which not only helps to differentiate between them but also adds depth and richness to your story’s world. Give your individual characters a distinct way of speaking, a nervous habit, mannerism, quirk, or a particular way of dressing to breathe life into them and make them feel more authentic.

Relationships between your characters are as crucial to your story as the characters themselves. How do they interact with each other? Whether it’s the deep bonds they forge through shared experiences or the bitter rivalry that’s fueled by conflicting goals, these interactions add complexity and emotions to the narrative. The dynamics between your characters and how they change and evolve over time enrich the story with depth and resonance.

Keep in mind the relationship between your protagonist and antagonist. Are they friends turned enemies, or have they always felt antipathy toward the other? How do their goals conflict? Are there aspects of the antagonist’s personality that reflect too closely to the protagonist’s had the latter made different choices in life? Will events in the narrative present opportunities or challenges for both the antagonist and protagonist to make different choices that impact their journey?

One vital key to creating compelling characters is empathy. As an author, you must be able to step into your characters’ shoes and understand their thoughts, feelings, and motivations to bring your characters to life on the page. This is true of your antagonist as well as your protagonist. Remember, your antagonist is not just crazy or evil, but rather the hero or heroine of their own story. Feeling empathy allows you to create authentic and relatable characters that draw readers in and invite them to share the fictional journey.

By giving your characters depth, ensuring they serve a purpose within the story, paying attention to details, exploring their relationships, and approaching them with empathy, you can craft compelling characters that bring their stories to life and resonate with readers.

Paula Judith Johnson is an online entrepreneur, Amazon Best Selling author, award-winning author of steamy romance novels, hostess of the Writing Romance Mastery Summits—where you can learn about writing, publishing, and marketing your romance novels—and the creator of the 10-week, immersive Seductive Storylines course for romance authors.