Ways To Create A Well-Rounded Character | Creative Writing
Have you ever read a book where the characters were just so plain and difficult to visualise? *Yawns*
Do you want to breathe life into your character(s) and capture your reader’s undivided attention?
If, like me, you’ve answered yes to the above questions, then this post will be helpful in teaching you how to shape the character(s) in your story.
All of us know that being able to pen compositions with strong and engaging characters is very crucial. Such characters value-add to the plot and most importantly, they draw the readers into the story by being believable and relatable.
First things first, there are three things to consider when it comes to effective character building:
1. Character’s appearance
2. Character’s personality
3. Character’s emotions
This refers to how a character looks like, for instance, his/her attire and age. Unfortunately, a lot of us describe our character’s appearance just for the sake of it. It is important to take note that when describing a character’s physical traits, it is best to consider how a character’s appearance helps the readers to visualise him/her. The description should give important details about the character, so you should select those few characteristics that make him/her stand out.
For instance, if you want to describe an elderly person’s physical traits, you can say :
Instead of merely telling your readers that you encountered an old lady, the precise details describing her hunch, hair and wrinkles allow them to visualise the old lady better.
Take note that it is not a must for you to describe the physical traits of every character in the story – you should only do so if these traits are important to the development of the story. In the extract above, I have included the physical descriptions of the elderly lady to show how frail she is in order to demonstrate clearly why she would need my help in the later part of the story.
Other than appearance, another thing to consider is a character’s personality, which refers to character traits or inner qualities, like being a kind or mean person. One way to decide on what character traits your main character should have is to try and relate his/her personality to the composition topic. For instance, for a topic like ‘An Unpleasant Incident’, you might want to describe a mischievous character (perhaps a prankster/bully?) who is always up to no good.
See what I did there? Instead of simply writing, ‘Michael was a naughty boy who wanted to play a prank on his teacher’, I described his facial expression (the corners of his lips curled into a mischievous grin), his action (rubbed his burly hands in glee) and what he was thinking (a malicious plan formed in his head) to show what a naughty boy he is. Not only can the reader visualise the above, he/she also gets a glimpse into the character’s unkind personality. Did you also notice that I included a subtle description of his physical trait? To make your descriptions even better, you can try this too – combine the character’s physical traits and personality.
We all have feelings, don’t we? It is vital that our characters too display some form of emotions. If our characters are void of any emotions, then the story will fall flat and readers will not be able to relate to their experiences or even find them believable. Let’s try to avoid that. Just like describing a character’s personality, you should try to include actions and facial expressions to show how your character is feeling, instead of merely stating the emotion. For instance, if you want to describe the fear your character has, you can say:
Isn’t this so much better than just simply writing, ‘Mei Li was scared.’? Using descriptive details, such as describing the character’s facial expressions and actions, gives the reader more insight into how your character is feeling and elevates the story to another level.
Ready to create your very own well-rounded characters? Below I have listed down useful phrases that you can use for each type:
• bloodshot eyes and dark circles
• haggard appearance e.g. crumpled shirt that was half tucked in (consider your character’s age and attire!)
• Slouching/ slid into a slump and tried to sit up straight
• kind smile plastered on his/her face
• soft, gentle eyes
• always render help to those in need
• chooses to go the extra mile
• blood boiling with rage
• face turned an ominous red
• clenched his/her fists in fury
• brows furrowed
Do share with us in the comment section below once you have attempted to craft your well-rounded character using these phrases. Be as creative as you like and always remember to have fun!
I hope the post has allowed you to see how appearance, personality and emotions all go hand in hand in creating a well-rounded character. The most important thing to remember is to include details that would help your readers visualise the character and make them believable. Till my next post, happy writing!