Are you struggling to craft the perfect hero or heroine? Or are you almost there but just need some help to flesh out the character and make him or her real? Check out these ideas!
Perfect Character Checklist
Give Them a Goal or Need
Your character's main goal or need will be the basis of the plot, so make sure it's something good! Also be sure to know why this is the character's goal. What events lead up to it? How does their personality affect the goal? Is the goal or need a result of being dissatisfied with something in their life? What are they dissatisfied with? Why hasn't your character yet reached this goal at the beginning of the story? What is holding them back? What will push them to fulfill this goal or need?
Give Them Strengths
What is your hero or heroine good at? What do others like about them? What do they like about themselves? Are there strengths they have that they themselves don't recognize?
Give Them Fears or Vulnerabilities
An invincible character is an unlikeable character. What does your character fear, and why? What doubts and insecurities do they have, and how do those affect their actions?
Give Them a Flaw or Secret
No one is perfect, not even the perfect hero or heroine. What is a personality flaw of your character? Do they have secrets? And how do these flaws or secrets play into their fears and vulnerabilities?
Give Them a Past
Your character's entire history won't be revealed in your novel, but you still need to know it so you can create a believable character. Where is your character from? What major events have happened in their life?
Give Them Hobbies and Interests
What does your character like to do? Why do they like to do that?
Don't Use a Stereotype
Your character shouldn't easily fit into a stereotype. Instead, create a unique and interesting character to interest readers.
Give Them Suffering
Life can't be easy for your character; if it was easy, there wouldn't be a story. Suffering also leads to growth, so be sure to make your character suffer.
Fill Out a Character Questionnaire
You need to really know your character to know how he or she would act. A great way to better know your character is to fill out a character questionnaire.
More Ideas to Craft the Perfect Hero or Heroine
It can be easy to start writing the same type of characters over and over, or to always write main characters that are just like you. This leads to stale writing and readers becoming bored. Here are some additional ideas to keep your characters fresh.
Study Other "Perfect" Heroes or Heroines
Other writers have written great heroes and heroines. Read books in your genre and specifically look for traits of the hero and heroine. What makes them likeable? What is their personality? What are their fears? Why do they react the way they do in the book? Is it believable? Why is it or is it not believable? Looking at what other authors have done can help you improve your own heroes and heroines.
Observe Real-Life Characters
Chances are, you've met a lot of people in your life, and they're all different. By observing others, you can better create a character that is unique and complex.
An exercise that may help is to write down information about a variety of people you've met, including their personality, how they make you feel, a few details about their lives and their pasts, and why you think they act certain ways.
Here are some ideas of who to write about:
- A family member that you are close to
- Someone you know well but that you dislike
- Your first love/crush
- Your childhood nemesis
- Your childhood best friend
- Your adult nemesis
- Your adult best friend
- A coworker or fellow author
- A person who has always believed in and supported you
- Someone who's always been hard on you or negative about you
- Your favorite neighbor
- Your least favorite neighbor
- A stranger that you've interacted briefly with recently
This brainstorming activity results in several complex characters that you can pull pieces from to create your own characters.
Pull From Your Own Experiences
Of course, you don't want all your main characters to end up being you, but you can still pull from your personal experience, especially the feelings you had during emotional times.
Write down how you felt during emotional moments, what those moments were, and how the emotion affected your actions. These moments may include a moment of great failure, a moment of great success, moments of greatest fear, a moment of great sorrow, a moment of great joy, a moment of deep shame, and a moment of guilt. Were these feelings related to your own fears, flaws, and vulnerabilities? How do these feelings help you better understand your characters and their actions?
Get Feedback from Beta Readers
Your readers can give you great feedback on your characters. Do your beta readers like the hero or heroine? Do they find their actions and feelings believable? Do they have ideas for what would be more believable? Is there additional information your reader needs to know in order to better understand the character? Is the character consistent in their beliefs, yet still have a complex personality?
Do you have additional ideas for how to craft the perfect hero or heroine? What have you done that has worked for you? We'd love to hear in the comments below!
If you'd like to learn more about Book Cave author promotions and other marketing ideas, please enter your email below and click the "Learn More" button to receive our author newsletter.