We have all read books where the characters seem to leap off the page, where they feel so lifelike that you wouldn’t be surprised if they walked through your front door. As a writer, I know that you want to ensure that your characters are like that so your readers fall in love with them, want to be them, and want to keep reading their story. Here are four ways to ensure that happens.
Create your character’s persona
This is the character development portion. I like to use a Tarot card for this, but you can use character bio worksheets, Pinterest mood boards, or just writing down everything you know about your characters in your project file.
For an example using The Empress card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, watch the video below!!
If you already have a character created, get your notes back out and start from there – look at what you have and make sure you at least have the basics of who this person is, what role they play in your novel, and a few points about what makes them unique.
Talk to your characters
You need to talk to your characters as if they are real human people (or aliens, or dragons, or whatever type of creature you are creating). I like to do this with the Tarot card I used to create the character, but you can also grab an image off Pinterest or a magazine – have something you can look at while you’re doing this exercise.
You can do this either out loud – asking your character questions and then answering as if you are them (I like doing this as it lets me use some of my theatre training) OR you can do this in a journal or word document. Start with a list of open ended questions and see what they say. For example, if you ask them: What do you want me to know about your story? And they answer, I don’t want to be known as the villain. Then your next question could be – why do people assume you’re the villain? And so on and so forth.
Become friends with your character
It’s true, you need to become friends with your characters – even the bad guys, even the truly evil antagonists you can create – the way you do this is what do you love about them? Probably for the bad guy, the thing you love the most is how evil they are, right?
To accomplish this, I like to journal as if I was the character. Do they write in a journal? Keep an online diary? Are they teens and write things down in the notes app on their phone or keep a vlog via TikTok? I figure that out first then try to mimic it as close to possible so I can get into the mindset of my character. Then I choose a day – either from my novel or right before – and start writing.
Every time I do this exercise I learn valuable information and things I can use about my characters for my novels – seriously, this is so much fun, if you only take away one exercise, let it be this one!!
Visualize them/Describe them to someone else
Now, step away from the images you have – either the Tarot card or Pinterest pictures, and try to visualize them in your mind. If you are not able to do this – describe them to someone else. This exercise is to get you thinking about your character, seeing your character in your own mind so much that you if they did walk in, the other person would go – oh, them?!
This helps you take everything you’ve learned and put it all together, creating a real human 3D character with quirks and flaws and emotions and all the things that make a reader fall in love with a person in a book.
If you did this exercise with one of your characters, please let me know in the comments below how it worked for you and what one thing you discovered about them that you are definitely putting into your book?
And if you found this helpful, I would love for you to check out my Muddy Middle to Manuscript coaching package where I will walk you through a process of getting very clear on your Big Why, becoming friends with your characters, and we will fix your outline so you can type The End all with a smile on your face.