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Creating Credible Characters

Originally published June 2007

Creating Credible Characters—Introduction

    Creating Credible Characters (I love alliteration!), will be about our characters (duh!): where they come from, how we get to know them, and how we get them to come to life on the page.
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Creating Credible Characters—Where Do Characters Come From?

    Answering the question, “Where do characters come from?” is very much like answering the baby question. There’s the stork-like answer we give to non-writing friends and then there’s the full disclosure we discuss amongst fellow writers. There are no storks here (well, maybe just one).
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Creating Credible Characters–Who Are You?

    Now that we’ve defined where characters come from, it’s time to figure out how we get to know these characters. One of the worst things we can do in our writing is not develop our characters well. This comes either from a lack of knowledge of how to do it or not spending enough time getting to know the characters at a deeper level.
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Creating Credible Characters–Culture Clash

    No matter what kind of story you’re writing, your characters will have both internal and external conflict. It is how your character copes with these conflicts—how they adapt, overcome, react, or not—that will reveal the most about your character. One of the driving sources of character revelation in literature is through culture clash.
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Creating Credible Characters–Let’s Get Personal

    We must go deeper. We must continue peeling the layers of the onion. This is where we move from the realm of “type”—of general characteristics—into individuality defined to specifics. It’s the “why?” behind everything your character thinks, says, does, and is.
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Creating Credible Characters–Mannerisms and Quirks

    Our characters’ mannerisms and quirks will arise out of who they are—so as you go through the personalization process with them, be looking for things that can become something unique to help define your character for the reader.
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Creating Credible Characters–What Do You Want?

    No matter how wonderfully complex and well-developed a character is, a reader isn’t going to care about them unless they can identify with what the character wants.
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Creating Credible Characters–What’s in a Name?

    Like naming children, this process is different for everyone. Some people come up with the name before they even have an idea for a character or for a storyline. Some people want to live with the character a while—to really, truly know who the character is—before figuring out what the name is.
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