|What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
Believable characters spring -- in my humble and limited experience -- from psychological realism. The most mundane or saintly characters will think about sex. They might not talk about it, but they'll think about it. They think about food. They worry about where their food and shelter and sex will come from. In addition to being high-minded and political, people are often petty and self-obsessed. Without these perceived flaws, they couldn't be set to a human scale. If they can't be set to a human scale, they're not realistic, however delicately crafted.
Plain old gut-level realism is what brings a character to life – to make them believable. With fiction, I don’t consciously create most characters. They just somehow appear with the flow.
Not something I am too sure about, yet. It's a process.
A good character ought to look and act like some one you would meet in real life. Many of my characters are drawn from people I've known or read about.
The hardest characters to create are believable bad guys. Robert A. Heinlien put it best "Remember no one is the bad guy in his own mind."
I make Fifi down to earth. She's a naive midwestern girl from Des Moines who is determined to make it out in Hollywood. She is a struggling waitress working in a Sherman Oaks coffee shop who gets turned down from one audution after another. That's why she is so believable, because very very few actresses ever start at the top. A struggling young actor or actress can emphasize with her because they know how tough it is just to survive in Hollywood. Does Fifi eventually make it to the top? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe she'll always be the 99% of actors who are struggling just to get by.
My characters usually come from those I know; to know the character you must know the environment in which the character has lived day-to-day, know his occupation, his needs and desires.
The revelation of human flaws and ideals are always a key to creating good, believeable characters...they need to be rounded out and the best way to do that is to use real life characters and sort of mesh them together. Justin Ward is my main character; he's roughly 60% me - there's a certain aloofness to him that I attribute to a friend of mine. My wife and kids are also reflective of some of the characters, at least in part. The old standard always applies: write what you know.
You have to be able to visually see him/her. They must have enough depth to become real. My characters are carbons of people I have encountered and how I imagine them to be inside.
To make realistic characters the author must understand how different people realistically act, talk and think. A character must do everything that fits that person's personality or that fits the type of person you've written him to be. For example, characters can be put in any situation but like people, they are going to react differently than another character would. Being realistic means understanding your characters and being true to them. You must write them in a way that fits them, you can't cheat.
With my characters I just begin writing and I let my character's voice take over and they begin to teach me about themselves as I write. Some authors actually do seperate lists of their characters's personalities, dislikes and likes. Whatever makes your characters realistic and true will work.
Resonance, I think, i.e., the character's approach to events has to be a complete surprise at the same time that the reader realizes that that approach was the only possible approach in the circumstances of that moment for that character. It's better if the surprise is created because the character's ears have just been opened (than if the author had withheld information). Whether the character surprises readers in a heroic way or by making a tragic mistake, we are engaged and transformed (and maybe can't get that character out of our imaginations).
I create a character that I need for the plot. One always hopes the end result is a believable character.
Personality is needed that is different from every other character in one way who also has flaws. I create my characters by taking bits and peices of my friends that I love and hate.
They have to be real. In other words, they need to have all the bumps and warts that we all have in our personalities. I creat mine by becoming the character. I put myself into the situation and ask what would I do or say at this time. It works for me. The comment I get most often is that reading my books is like hearing from an old friend and catching up on what is going on in their lives.
I don't really create my characters,they create me. They take control of my mind, my soul and my life until they have life and soul of thier own.
That's a tough question, but I would have to say resonance. We have to feel like we could know this character to care what they do or what becomes of them.
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