Characters are people we visualize inside our head. So, they must be just as real as we are; they are full of depth, emotion, and quirks. After all, no one is perfect. Thus, do not make your characters perfect. That is not how you develop characters
This is not to say that they cannot be good people. A person with strange habits can still be the nicest person on the block.
So how do you develop characters that feel real in a story? You flesh them out, give them a backstory, and show their quirks in dialogue and action.
Here is an example:
Lucy jumped on Betty’s bed. The mattress was soft except for one spot where she’d hidden a surprise for her sister.
“Come on! Jump with me,” she urged Betty.
When Betty hopped on the bed and he foot hit that bumpy spot, she jerked away, confused. She pulled back the sheets and found an olive.
“I wanted you to dream of olives, Betty.” Lucy grinned, her eyes twinkling with playfulness.
Betty was not pleased.
Here, we can easily picture Lucy’s silly character merely through her actions. I did not have to mention her silliness nor her personality or age. We can clearly see that she is young. We can also see that Betty is the more serious of the two.
There is also an amazing writing exercise that I recommend. It will help you build a character with ease. I call it the “Fridge Exercise.” I did not come up with this exercise; it is actually a well-known writing exercise I learned while studying creative writing in college. Describe the contents inside a character’s fridge. Is the food healthy? Old? Is there only junk food? Diet food? No food? Fast food? Only alcohol? The contents inside a fridge can say a lot about a character.
So, try to get down to your character’s natural quirks and habits. Flush them out. Then try out the amazing writing exercise I mention here. In time, you will have characters as real as walking, talking people. Good luck!
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