Introduction: How to Create a Fictional Character in a Novel

This Instructable explains the process necessary in oder to create a convincing fictional character for a piece of writing.

To complete this task, you will need something to write on; be it a paper and a pencil or typed on an electronic device.

Step 1: Character Triangle

The basic method for creating a character is to identify what the character wants, needs, and what is his/her fear/flaw that is hindering the character from getting what he/she wants/needs.

At the beginning of every story, a character WANTS (external goal)
something, but they have a critical FEAR/FLAW stopping them from achieving it. That’s because the character actually NEEDS (internal goal) something else entirely to get there. It’s only once a character gets what they need and overcome their fear/flaw, that they can get what they want. In most cases, by the end of the journey the character doesn’t really care about the WANT anymore, since they’ve grown as a person.

Example: Tangled

Rapunzel WANTS to see the lanterns. Her FEAR/FLAW is that she cannot leave the tower. Rapunzel NEEDS freedom. By the end f the story she has seen the lanterns but has discovered what freedom feels like and that is what she needed all along.

Step 2: Creating Characteristics

All characters are defined by their own personal characteristics just as every real person is. For example: Harry Potter is brave and selfless. Hermione is bookish and smart. These are personality characteristics. Physical characteristics would be Harry's black hair, green eyes, and the lighting bolt scar on his forehead. Hermione has bushy brown hair. Ron and all the other Weasleys have red hair.

Step 3: The Story Around the Character

The most convincing stories are one when the characters act as they should. This means not straying from your character's characteristics. For example: if you have an overall honest character, do not make him/her lie on an impulse just to get a plot factor in. Be consistent with your character.

Also, the story must be centered on the character. Make it clear from page one who the protagonist is. The story will then form around the character and if the character is convincing, so will the plot.