4. Creating Human Characters

Page 9 of 9 | Heart of the Story | How Do You? | Personality | Discovering Your Characters (1) | Discovering Your Characters (2) | Show, Don't Tell |
| Dialogue | Minor Characters | Don't Try This at Home! |

Don't Try This at Home!

Or, rather, do.

1. Write a scene—just a page or two—that portrays an apparently bland and unremarkable character. But have in mind one surprising character trait—a strength, or a weakness, or just an odd quirk—and find a way to reveal that trait through action or conversation.

2. Write a character distinctly different from yourself.

  • Are you male? Write a convincing female.
  • Are you female? Write a guy.
  • Are you a kid? Write a parent.
  • Are you an adult? Portray a child.

Start by making some descriptive notes to help yourself get a sense of the character. Then write a scene in which the qualities you have chosen become important. (For example, if you're under 21, write a scene about a parent talking to someone your own age—but write it from the parent's point of view!)

Finished? Get some feedback on it. Show it to someone who can tell you whether it seems realistic (in the example above, you might show it to someone who is a parent—your own or someone else's).

stair children3. Choose two characters from the following list, or make up two of your own:

  • an 8-year-old girl
  • a rebellious young man just old enough to drive
  • a priest
  • a middle-aged woman starting a career late in life
  • a hotshot young salesman fresh out of school
  • a old man, dying
  • a baby


Give them any normal human characteristics you like (for this exercise, no superhuman powers, please), and write a scene using both characters. Show a relationship developing between them. Portray friendship, enmity, whatever you like. But show the relationship growing.

Finished? Get some feedback on it from a trusted reader.

4. Try the last exercise again, but this time give one or both characters an unusual or superhuman power. How does this affect the growing relationship?

Next Up: Deeper Dimensions of Creating Human Character


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