Posts in Characters
The Secret to Crafting Believable Characters

Readers today want to get deep into our characters rather than being told what they are feeling. Which means our characters must feel, react, emote, and process in natural, believable ways. Deep POV has become the norm across genres.

“Show, don’t tell” is the golden rule of fiction. But it’s easier said than done. If we show too much, we risk boring our readers (and ourselves) or overwriting. If we show too little, we risk failing to adequately reveal the character’s emotions and, hence, fail to evoke any emotional response in our readers. 

As we balance narrative, backstory, dialogue, action, and direct thoughts, we have to be mindful of the overarching purpose of all of it: to artfully show the character’s emotional state through her mind-set, thoughts, behavior, dialogue, and body language. It is not easy to do well. The saying “Easy reading is hard writing” is a truth seasoned authors know well.

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How to Craft Compelling Character Backstories

Part of crafting characters involves exploring their history. 

Just as your lived experiences have shaped the person you are today, a character’s backstory has the power to provide depth and understanding to their characterization. It can even lend context to the conflicts taking place in your present story. Without that history, your character’s attitudes and actions have little foundation on which to stand.

But crafting a rich and compelling character backstory is far from simple. What elements should you consider when weaving your character’s history? Better yet, how do you translate that history onto the page without bogging down your story? Let’s answer both of these questions and more in today’s article…

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How to Craft Static Character Arcs For Your Novel

A character arc follows the inner journey a character undergoes throughout a story.

In most cases, we think of character arcs as being transformative. A protagonist overcomes a fear or flaw in an effort to achieve their goal, or an anti-hero finds themselves falling victim to their darkest doubts and desires. But what about those arcs in which no transformation takes place? Is a character arc lacking in development if the character remains the person they are when their story began?

Not at all, writer — or, at least, not necessarily. When crafted with intention, this type of arc can tell a powerful inner story. Today on the blog, let’s take the time to break down the major beats that bring this static arc to life.

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How to Craft Negative Character Arcs For Your Novel

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote an article on character arcs.

In that article, I explained the importance of developing character arcs in your stories, established the three arcs found in fiction, and broke down the eleven major beats that comprise the most popular of the three: positive change arcs. I also asked if you’d be interested in similar breakdowns of the remaining two styles, negative change arcs and flat arcs, and your answer was a resounding yes.

Despite this, I found myself caught up in other articles and topics and failed to circle back around — until now, that is. Today, I’m excited to delve into the dark descent of negative change arcs with you all, soon to be followed by an article on flat arcs as well. Have a character for whom a bittersweet or tragic ending is in order? This is the article for you, writer.

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How to Craft a Believable Villain

Everyone loves a good villain. 

From Emperor Palpatine to Lord Voldemort, Hannibal Lector, and beyond, countless villains have stood the test of time to become classic fictional favorites. Love to hate ‘em or hate to love ‘em, I think it’s safe to say we want readers to feel just as passionately about the villains in our own stories. 

But how can we, as writers, craft antagonists that go beyond mere mustache-twirling and maniacal laughter to become the truly believable, bone-chilling villains we long for them to be? Let's dive deep into villainy in today's breakdown, writer!

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How to Encourage Readers to Invest in Your Story By Crafting Relatable Characters

We want readers to connect with our characters, to step inside their shoes and invest in their journeys.

But creating that easy connection between reader and character isn’t always a clear-cut process. Do our characters need to be, in some way, relatable for readers to connect with their stories? In my opinion, yes, but perhaps not in the way you might think.

Today, writer, let’s cut through the chaos and get straight to the point. If you want to encourage readers to invest in your characters' journeys, here are two key tips you don't want to miss!

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Does Your Story's Sidekick Serve a Purpose?

The best friend. The sassy co-worker. The fellow thief on the crew.

Our stories’ sidekicks can come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing that unifies them is their potential to aid our protagonists through the toughest times in their personal journeys — and maybe create a little secondary tension along the way! 

With such strong purposes to serve, one would think that crafting sidekicks would be a cinch, but it’s not often that a truly sensational right-hand character finds their way onto the pages of a book. So, how can you ensure that your protagonist's sidekick adds real and memorable value to your story? Let’s break down my top tips today, writer!

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The Do's and Don'ts of Crafting Your Story's Love Interest

With all its heart-aching tension and warm, fuzzy feelings, it's easy to see how a good love story can stand the test of time.

Crafting love stories of our own, however, is often tricky business. In a genre as oversaturated and teeming with exhausted tropes as romance, crafting a love story that feels fresh and exciting often requires more than a little hard work. Fortunately, time and intention are on our side. 

By focusing first on crafting the characters who will serve as love interests in our stories, we lay the groundwork for gripping romances to come. So whether you're writing the next great love story or simply looking to include a romantic subplot in your book, let's break down the do's and don'ts of crafting love interests today!

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How to Craft Spectacular Secondary Characters

Are your story’s supporting characters receiving enough attention?

As storytellers, we often work diligently to bring our protagonists to life, taking pains to shape and mold them into characters that feel as real as the living, breathing people around us. Secondary characters, however, don’t always receive that same treatment.

It’s easy to skimp on the characterization of characters who aren’t always in the limelight, but doing so would be a mistake. If we want to immerse readers in a world that feels as rich and compelling as our own, our supporting casts deserve just as much attention as our stories' stars. Today, let’s talk about how to give it to them!

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How to Define Your Character's Unique Voice

To create characters as real as the people around us, we must remember to forge for them their own unique voices.

With individual personalities, cultural influences, experiences, and world views, its no wonder people verbally interact with the world in different ways, and so our characters should as well. Doing so not only helps to distinguish them from the other characters in our stories, but to add depth and realism to their characterization. 

But how do you go about defining your characters’ unique voices? The process is admittedly a bit lengthy, but I promise it will prove well worth your time when your characters’ voices leap off the page truly and fully defined. Sound like a plan? Let’s get started with today's breakdown, writer!

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Have You Chosen the Right Main Character to Tell Your Story?

Main characters can make or break a story’s success.

Oftentimes, the doubts we face as we work to bring our main characters to life can seem endless. Are our protagonists’ well-rounded enough? Are they interesting? Will readers root for them to achieve their goal? 

Choosing the right main character to carry the weight of your story is absolutely vital, but knowing whether you’ve selected the perfect protagonist can be tricky—or is it? Truth is: knowing you’ve chosen the right main character for your story doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s why…

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How to Find Your Character's Motivation

Writers, it’s time to talk about Why-Power! 

Specifically, the why behind your characters’ story goals. Strong goals drive plot, of course, but it’s your characters reasons for wanting to achieve those goals that lend your story context and power. How so?

In today's article, we're going to break why motivations are such powerful storytelling tools, as well as the two main types of motivations and how you can create well-developed motivations for your own story. Ready to get started? We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's dive in!

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The Four Main Types of Epic Antagonists

Every story needs a good villain, right? Well, not so fast…

Stories need conflict, certainly, but conflict doesn't have to come at the hands of a cackling, mustache-twirling supervillain. There's more than one way to shape your story's antagonist!

In fact, there are four main types of antagonists that appear in fiction, and I can't wait to break them all down with you today. Which type of antagonist is best for your story? How can you make each type a true stand-out success? Read on for more, my friend.

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How to Build Epic Emotional Conflict by Utilizing Your Character's Lie

In storytelling, there is external and internal conflict.

External conflict consists of the struggle between a character and an outside force, whether that be a person or some element of nature, society, or technology. Every story has a bit of external conflict, but those that are driven by it are known as plot-driven stories. 

Internal conflict, on the other hand, occurs within a character. The character may struggle to stay true to their morals or beliefs in the face of pressure or temptation, or they may struggle to overcome some false belief, a "lie" they tell themselves that holds them back from living the very best version of their life.

It's this second type of internal conflict—the struggle between a character and their Lie—that we're going to break down today!

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How to Define Your Character's Story Goal

Are you ready to get your plot rolling?

The first step to creating epic conflict for your story is to define your characters’ goals. When you know what your characters want, you know what action they’ll take. And if you craft your protagonist’s and antagonist’s goals with purpose in mind, the actions they take are sure to lead to some pretty awesome conflict.

Not sure what your characters want to achieve? Let’s dive into today’s lesson!

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Our newest Well-Storied workbook is live: introducing Crafting Incredible Characters!

Hello there, writers, and happy Friday!

Today, I'm so excited to announce the launch of our newest Well-Storied workbook. Crafting Incredible Characters is 105-page digital workbook designed specifically to help you develop well-rounded characters that leap off the page.

As I've often said, characters are the backbone of any good story. It's their desires that drive the plot forward, their motivations that pull on readers' emotions, their flaws and weaknesses that keep tensions running high, and their complexities that breathe life onto the pages of your story.

But the process of crafting characters that fulfill all of those functions with grace and ease is certainly easier said than done.

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Crafting Strong Character Arcs For Your Novel

Hey, writers! Last week on the blog, we learned how to build powerful themes into our stories.

One thing I mentioned was that theme is often revealed through our stories' character arcs, but showcasing theme isn't the only way strong character arcs can add to our stories.

Character arcs can also introduce riveting internal conflict, raise our stories' stakes, add complexity to our characters, and create a deep emotional connection with our readers. Not too shabby, eh?

That's why I want to take time today to dig into character arcs---specifically, how you can craft your own with ease. Knowledge is power, right? So let's get started!

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Have You Created a Character or a Caricature?

No one wants to read a story about characters who feel like imitations of the people they could have been. 

Characters should be well-rounded and fully-developed. In other words, they should feel as real as the people around us. This is a topic we've discussed frequently here at Well-Storied, but strong characterization is too vital to a story's success not to examine it in every way possible. And so today, I'd like to approach the character-creation process from a new angle. 

So, writer, if you're ready to ditch paper-thin caricatures and half-hearted attempts at characterization, let's break down the six core questions you need to ask about your characters asap!

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My Favorite Method for Building Characters' Personalities

I've always loved creating characters. But despite my love, I used to struggle every day to bring my vision for my characters to life on the page. Instead of the vibrant, interesting people I had milling around in my head, my characters were lackluster and cliché. 

I needed to make a change. Characters are the backbone of any good story. Without captivating characters, my stories were bound to fall flat. So I took a long, hard look at my work in an attempt to figure out where I was going wrong.

Did I not know my characters well enough? Had I created boring characters in the first place? Did I simply need more experience in writing them? Then, I discovered my characters' saving grace...

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33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters

Are you ready to breath life into your story?

Creating characters that are as real, tangible, and complex as the people around us is certainly easier said than done, but it's also necessary. If we fill our stories with caricatures and cardboard cutouts, they're sure to fall flat, right? Fortunately, crafting well-developed characters doesn't have to be as overwhelming and unfocused a process as you may think.

Well-developed characters are complex and nuanced, and while the process of creating them is just the same, you can easily skip the overwhelm and lack of focus by grabbing a notebook and working through today's breakdown. I'm here to share 33 actionable steps to creating strong characters, so let's dive in!

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