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Characters

The Cast

Two or three characters are usually enough, unless you’re writing a full-length book. Too many people can confuse readers.

The Bad Guy

You don’t have to have a bad guy, but if you do, give him (or her) a cool hobby or an impressive skill. Bad guys are better – and more real – when they’re not just bad. Figure out why the character acts this way. Maybe your bad guy has a good reason.

Your Most Important Character

Your main character (MC from here on out) owns your story. Sure, you’re writing it, but readers believe your MC is experiencing it.

Think about your favorite story. Chances are you cared about the MC and what happened to him/her. While you were reading, you probably felt like you were living the MC’s life. That’s what you want to do for your readers.

Only What Your MC Experiences

Your MC is just as important to you as he or she is to your readers. Here’s why: Readers like to think the story is happening to them. You can make them feel this way by letting them experience everything your MC goes through. Show them what your MC sees and hears; share your MC’s thoughts; describe what your MC feels.

Don’t include anything else. To experience the story as if they were your MC, readers can only see what your MC sees. They can only know what your MC knows. Yes, this limits what you can write about it, but it’s worth it. It’s called staying in one viewpoint and it’s a great trick for pulling readers into your story. Read more about viewpoint by selecting Who’s Telling the Story.

Make Your MC Appealing

The best MCs have specific goals and needs. They go after what they want and work hard to get it. It’s more interesting that way. Let readers know what your MC wants. Show why it matters. Your MC’s happiness should depend on succeeding and readers should want nothing more than your MC’s happiness. Make your MC someone to care about, root for and worry over.

But Not Perfect

Perfect people are boring. No one relates to them. Besides, the problem or trouble in your story will be a bigger deal if your MC causes it. Don’t worry; if you’ve made your MC appealing, readers will forgive him/her. Everyone makes mistakes and has flaws. Making your MC less than perfect will put readers on your MC’s side.

The Story Should Affect Your MC

If your MC causes the problem in the beginning then fixes it in the end, it practically guarantees your MC has changed or learned something throughout the story. It’s what readers will think about after they’ve finished. It’s also called Theme. We’ll talk more about that later.

Right now it’s time to think about what happens in your story. Follow the link to learn more about Plot.

To practice the tips and techniques on this page, go to the activities page For Characters.

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