Many thanks to Munazza for the below guest post.
How to make a character seem realistic
As an author, you will be asked this basic question quite a few times in your life. Most people can’t categorize a simple answer in a few words. To many authors out there, it comes naturally. No one believes it until they’ve tried. The reason being very simple—as you write the book (without any crafting [I know: not good. Just pay attention]), you realize that the person your character was on the first page isn’t the same in the end. It all comes naturally. The incidents usually change the character.
But, for the new writers out there learning to write better (which, obviously, is a good thing), and in general for writers who’re concerned, I have written down four simple steps to a realistic and, (mind you) a loveable character.
Nobody feels sorry for Mary-Sue. If a reader can’t relate, he would never be able to put himself into the character’s shoes. That results in being unable to feel the emotions of the character.
The best option for a writer to make the readers feel the emotion of the character is by making them relatable, aka, imperfect. If your character has flaws like a normal person would, they would be more real. Maybe; a scar on the face, big teeth, bad trait like lying or biting nails. It can be anything. Anything human.
You may feel at a point that if you make your character flawed, the readers won’t love him. But that’s not the case. They might dislike him at the first, but as the time passes, they’ll be more in love with him than any of the characters because he is going to be more real.
Character arc is pretty easy to explain. It’s when the character is one person at the start of the book, and through the course of it, he goes through hell and by the end of the book, he’s someone else.
Why is said it was easy to explain, is also, very easy to explain. The characters are supposed to be very real and very human. Being human, I know that I’m not the person I was three years ago. We all go through change in our lives and we’re never the same person all the time.
Character arc is an essential step if you want to make your character more realistic. So, if he’s a liar at first, make him go through situations in which his lies get him into trouble, and in the end, it’ll be easier for you to portray him as an honest man.
A person (or a character) can be nothing without his past. It’s really the past that affects the present and the personality of a person. There is a reason behind the fact that he doesn’t trust anyone. There is an explanation beyond his angry nature.
Make it realistic. If your character has a certain trait, it’s either inherited, influenced, or probably some incident made him the way he is.
Try to show how the trait (the one that’s important) made its way into the character’s life. A flashback here, a conversation there—these are really the points that can spice your story and make the characters more relatable.
(This point is quite similar to the first one, but it has its significance.)
Mistakes are a part of life. Humans make mistakes, which may lead to more mistakes or probably learning from them. If a person doesn’t make mistake, he goes back to the category of “Mary-Sue”.
I’m having a different point here from the first. To make your reader seem most realistic, have them make mistakes. An ugly blunder. An error which isn’t liked by the readers. You’d most probably think at a point that it will turn the readers off, and it may for the time being, but trust me, in the long run, that character will be more loved than ever. Remember Draco Malfoy?
And with that, these tips come to an end.
In the end, I would like to give one simple tip: Don’t dump the information on the readers, rather show it in bits and pieces, here and there, through their actions and by dropping a flashback after a certain flaw is shown.
So, I hope this post helped you all. Comment below, and let me know if I missed something (I’m a human, after all *winks*). Also, make sure to check out my blog for more! http://www.desirablepurity.wordpress.com/
Till next time!