How to Make Your Characters Believable
Sometimes when I sit down to work out an idea for a story that’s been dancing or in some cases stomping around in my head, I first try to identify who the story will be about or who the main characters will be. Once I figure out what they want and need, I name them, color them in and dress them according to what century they’ll be living in, what their income level might be and what they either do or don’t do for a living.
Once these characters are drawn in my imagination, their personalities begin to take shape. In “Fireflies,” I named the characters according to the personality traits I planned for them to have. I researched name meanings and outlined each of them as to what kind of person they were, their likes and dislikes and even how they spoke, before they ever found their way into the pages of the book.
“Fireflies” is a character driven story as well as being a paranormal historical fiction story, so it was very important that these people come to life for me and my readers. The story takes place in the nineteenth century. It wouldn’t make much sense for these young people to be using twenty first century slang and high fiving each other would it? I know that seems a bit extreme but our readers are super smart and they can spot a time traveler a mile away. Do your research. It’s so important and so worth it.
Consistency in a character’s behavior is important. If they do evolve and change, make that evolution a natural transition and not something to where your reader becomes confused as to who is speaking. For example; in chapter three, your character might be jumping fences and wearing her brother’s clothes, and in chapter four, she’s wearing a dress and acting like a total lady. It’s fine for her to change her clothes but under the dress, she’s still the same person and most likely hasn’t a clue how to wear a dress or how to behave in one.
The most important part of creating believable characters is to draw from your own life experience. Being the youngest of eleven children and having a very large extended family, I have so many characters to draw from I don’t think I’ll ever run out of material. Get out and live. Watch people and really listen to them. People are how they speak and behave, not who they may tell you they are. As Henry David Thoreau said, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
- Title: Fireflies
- Author: P.S. Bartlett
- Genre: Fantasy
- Length: 292 pages
- Release Date: April 2013
- ISBN-13: 978-0615754284
- Imprint: Mythos Press
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What people are saying...
- J. Gantt"As I read this novel I found myself being transported into a time far away, yet very comfortable as I was drawn into the family Whelan. As a first time novelist, Ms. Bartlett seems to have a gift and I will look forward to more novels written by her as it can only get better with experience."
Title: Hope from the Ocean
Author: PS Bartlett
Release Day: May 30th, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal/Historical Irish Fiction
When Owen Whelan revealed his secret, he was set free from a haunting past and an uncertain future for his son, Ennis. However, in order to know the true depths of his heart, first we must follow him all the way back to a dirt road on a chilly and bitter spring dawn in Ireland. Behind the locked doors of his memories and hidden beneath shame, hunger and eventually escape, we learn the true meaning of the proverb, “There’s hope from the ocean but none from the grave.” Owen’s journey will teach him that sometimes you have to cross that ocean not only to survive but to finally find love, life and become the man worthy of your own admiration and respect.
There are turning points in life you cannot come back from but if you’re brave enough, you can begin again.