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How to Write Great Characters

Learn how to write great characters in film or just general storytelling!
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As Bob Gale once said, “The three things that matter most in a story are characters, characters, and characters”.

When we talk about conceiving characters, there is no one way to do it, hence, it can get tricky. 

Most writers agree that creating and giving life to characters is one of the most interesting parts of the writing process. You feel very powerful when you get down to characterize. It gives you the power to make your characters do and say anything. 

However, if you have experience writing characters, then you will understand that this is not how it works. If you understand your character, you will reach a point where the character itself will begin to tell you what to do. 

You need to get very involved to reach this point. Creating real, tangible and complex characters is, however, easier said than done. 

If you’re struggling, then check out some tips on how to write great characters:

How to Write  Great Characters


Most of the writers, especially newbies don’t consider the name as an important part of the character’s personality. This is a mistake that can cost you a lot in the long-run.

Most experienced writers spend hours thinking of a suitable name for a character. A name, when it sits right on the character feels like music e.g. Vito Corleone, Indiana Jones, Norman Bates, etc. 

If you want to add meaning to your character and give it a personality, make sure you perfect the name. It doesn’t have to be a unique name, it only needs to have a sound to it.

We link certain qualities to certain names. Michael, for example, is a name associated with the guy next door. 

Copy Yourself

It is ok to write a character that carries the same beliefs, instincts, and baggage as you. 

This works as long as you bring all that to the table. Writing and acting are very similar It requires you to expose yourself and be yourself vulnerable.

If you are not yourself, you may also base your character on someone close to you, such as your bestie or teacher. However, this doesn’t mean to turn it into an  autobiography. It only means to pick the right traits.

Create Someone The Opposite Of You

It may be a good idea to create a character that’s completely opposite to you. Believe it or not, many writers use this trick and it works well.

Consider the main character in Firefly and Serenity, Joss Whedon’s Malcolm Reynolds. According to the writer, the character was the complete opposite of her own personality and someone he’d never get along with.

It is not important that the character is elevated or evil, it just needs to be someone who would push all your buttons.

Add Contrast

Contrast is what makes things fun. You can write a version of yourself, you can write a character that is completely opposite to you, or you can write both. 

If all the characters in your story do the same thing, then there will be no conflict. Contrasting characters give birth to unique elements.

Find Motives

Your characters have motives for doing things. If they’re happy, they should have a reason to be happy. Otherwise, things will fall flat. This is a part of storytelling but when it comes to characters, both things need to come together.

Give Them Style

Your characters should  be easy to identify. Think about Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, even if you pick  a random line from the novel, you will know who it belongs to without reading the entire page. This is because Meyer has given specific styles and personalities to all her characters. This should be your aim as well.


So, get to work today and think of a character that’s easy to connect to but memorable at the same time. Look for inspiration around you and you’ll get all the answers. 

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