Thursday, January 31, 2013

How do you set your characters apart?: Questions to Spark Your Mind

I'm a character driven reader. If I hate the main character of the novel, I will hate the book. There's never been an exception. I noticed this recently on a book I was asked to review - all the ratings were five and four stars, yet I had a hard time enjoying the book solely because the main character didn't interest me.

How can you make your character more interesting? Dig deeper.  Layer them. You don't ever know every single thing about a person when you just meet them, right? It should be the same with your characters. We should learn new things about them as the story unfolds.

Questions to Ask Yourself
1. Do they have any quirks?
Maybe they have something truly peculiar such as saying names in an odd voice to be able to remember them more easily. I personally cannot stop reading a book mid chapter if the page number isn't divisible by five. I do the same things with websites - if I stop on a page, it has to be divisible by five.

2. Do they have any special talents?
This is easier to notice in paranormal fiction, as supernatural talents are often mentioned, but a talent doesn't just have something quite so noticeable. Maybe they're great at talking themselves out of trouble.

3. What literary character does your character most wish they were?
Maybe she always wanted to be Hermione, the girl whose smarts got her ahead. Maybe she dreamed of being tough like Katniss or vulnerable like a lead from a Sarah Dessen novel. Who do they relate to when they read?

4. What information would they leave out telling a potential new date?
These are the telling answers. For example, I never dates that I'm a superstitious Southern gal who always leaves white candles burning. They don't need to know that until they move in and they're stuck with me. (I'm going to assume that potential new dates don't read my posts. And if they do...awkward.) What details about themselves would your characters treat similarly?

5. How would they fill in the blank to the statement "I am a ______." ?
I'm Kristen. I'm a writer, marketing expert, and a chronic maker of really bad jokes.
All puns aside, knowing how your character sees and describes themselves is important. Do they focus on their GPA or future career? Their talents? Their personality? The possibilities are endless.

Don't forget to think about character likability and relatability!


  1. Awesome questions! I never really thought about what my character might like to read. (Wierd, considering that I spend more time reading than I do sleeping.)
    And ohmygosh, I can't put down a book unless the page number I'm on is divisible by 4. I am a... quirky individual. (Or wierd. Whichever term you prefer.)
    Anyways, cool post. =D

    1. I'm always curious about what I do that tells a lot about me - and I try to relate that to my characters. Love that you have a reading number quirk too! :)

  2. Oh! Awesome article Kristen! Thank you! These are great questions to keep in mind for ensuring that you not only keep your characters true to themselves throughout the entire book but also to help you make decisions on how they would react to different scenarios.