• Stuart Wakefield

4 Ways to Supercharge Your Lead Characters


Boring characters can ruin your novel by robbing readers of the opportunity to become emotionally attached to them. These characters also may not have enough personality traits to make them interesting, or they may be one-dimensional. If you want your readers to stay engaged, make sure you give your characters enough depth and complexity.


When it comes to characters, sometimes readers might be tempted to give up on a story before it's finished. However, if the characters are well-written and interesting, readers might stick around for the entire novel. Whether or not the characters are worth following for a whole novel depends on their development and how well they're described.


Here are four ways I recommend you supercharge the characters in your novel:


1. Switch Things Up

People often say that the key to great fiction is compelling characters. But what does that mean? To some, it may be a character's backstory, how they interact with others, and the choices that they make. For others, it could simply be the way that the character looks or behaves. In any case, it's essential to have characters who live, breathe, and have the capacity to surprise us.


If the characters don't jump off the page, readers may not stick around long enough to find out what happens.


One way to give your characters more depth is to imagine them as the opposite sex and envision how differently they behave and what different feelings they show. Consider a woman who is usually meek and shy, but if she were a man, she might be more aggressive and domineering. Or, consider a man who is typically confident and outgoing, but if he were a woman, he might be more insecure and unsure of himself.


When you start thinking about your characters in this way, it can help you to develop their personalities more fully and make them feel more real to your readers. You may also find that you start to view them in a new light, which can add interesting dynamics to your story. So next time you feel like your characters are flat or one-dimensional, try using this technique to give them some extra life.


If you still feel like your characters are flat, or if they don’t seem to be clicking the way you want them to, try casting actors as the characters in the movie of your book. This can help you to see your characters in a new light and can give you some ideas for further developing their personalities.


2. Deconstruct Their Passions

One of the best ways to make your characters feel real to your readers is to focus on the component parts of their emotions. This will help you to create richer and more complex emotions, as well as making your characters more human in nature. By taking the time to understand the different aspects of each emotion, you'll be able to write scenes that are more believable and engaging.


When you're working on a scene, try asking yourself some questions about the characters' emotional states. What is causing them to feel this way? What are the individual elements of their emotional experience? What is their reaction to these feelings? Focusing on the component parts of an emotion will help you to bring out its full potential, and will make your writing more realistic and powerful.


When creating characters, it is important to know their desires. These desires should be something the characters want more than anything else in the world. However, it is also important to break this desire into parts so they can be examined in more detail and see where that desire comes from.


One way to do this is by using the characters' backstory. What events led up to the characters wanting this particular thing? Why does this desire matter so much to them? Is there something else driving this need?


It is also important to consider what the characters would be willing to do for this desire. What are they willing to sacrifice? How far are they willing to go? What obstacles stand in their way?


Let's look at a character bent on revenge.


Anger is a powerful emotion that can lead to revenge. It can be a motivating force, giving that character the energy they need to seek retribution. The downside is that it can also be destructive, leading to rash decisions and actions.


Shock is another strong emotion that can drive a character to take revenge. It's a natural reaction to something unexpected, such as being betrayed by someone they trust. When they're in shock, it's hard to think straight and make good decisions. That can work in their favour if they're planning a calculated revenge plot, but it can also lead to mistakes if they're not careful.


When you’re writing a story, it’s important to consciously look at a situation from the viewpoint of every character involved, letting each one make their best move from their point of view. This will help you develop your characters more fully. By taking the time to think about what each character wants and how they might try to get it, you can supercharge your characters and scenes.


3. Go Deeper Into Voice

Open a blank document, then slip into the skin of your characters. Let them come to life on the page, developing their voices, strong and clear.


It helps you get into their heads, and figure out what they would say and do. It also helps with character development. The more your characters talk, the more you'll learn about them, and the better your story will be.


Pay attention to the words they use and how they use them. Are they formal or informal? Are they blunt or diplomatic?


Your characters have just been through the wringer. They've faced challenges, heartache, and adventure, and you want to know: what has it done to them? How have they changed as a result of the events in the story?


In their own words, have them describe what's happened to them and how they feel about it.


This technique can be a powerful tool for developing your characters and giving your readers a deeper understanding of them. It can also be used to reveal important plot points or foreshadow future events. So why not give it a try? Let your characters tell their own story.


4. Track Character Change

Without change, your characters will be flat and uninteresting. In order to track the inner change in your characters, you need to identify the plot elements that instigate character change.


One way to do this is to look at your story's inciting incident. This is the event that sets everything in motion and kicks off the main conflict. It's often what triggers the characters' growth journey.


From there, you'll want to look at all of the key turning points in your story. These are moments when the characters face a major decision or challenge that forces them to grow. Each one of these turning points should reveal a little more about who your characters have become.


By tracking the inner change in your characters, you can create a more nuanced and believable story arc.


As with everything in story development, make sure the changes are understandable and logical.


As you read your manuscript, mark the passages where your characters have moments of realisation or reflection. These moments are important for developing your story and characters. They show your reader what is driving your characters and why they are doing what they are doing.


Reflection passages can reveal a lot about a character’s backstory or motivations. They can also show how characters change or grow throughout the story. Realisation passages can show how your characters evolve and adapt to their situation.


Both reflection and realisation passages can help you develop your plot and deepen your characters. Make sure to include enough of these passages in your manuscript so that your readers understand your characters and story fully.


By reading through the passages of reflection and realisation, you can look for inconsistencies in behaviour and gaps that can be filled with other insights. This will help you to create well-rounded characters who are believable and engaging.


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these exercises will help to give your flat, boring characters some life. Remember to make use of your characters' quirks and unique personality traits in order to make them interesting and memorable.


With a little bit of effort, you can turn any character into someone the reader will love (or love to hate).


If you enjoyed this post, share it with your fellow writers!

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