How To Write Short Stories – Part Three – Characters

In my previous two parts I have written about how to get inspiration for your short story and the general outline of what one entails so this post is continuing on from those and is going to help you with the characters in your story.

How to Write Convincing Characters

–          Show how they think, talk, behave and how they specifically interact with other characters.

–          Demonstrate to the reader that they have their own ‘voice’ – something that makes them stand out from the other characters in your story.

–          Give them memorable mannerisms, quirks or eccentricities. This makes them stand out from the other characters. If you need help deciding what mannerism to give them think of people you know in real life it could be – what they wear, a habit they have, the way they talk, their tone of voice, posture, cold/sniffles/coughs, the way they walk, what they talk about, if they have a trademark phrase that they always say, if they always tell jokes, whether they are optimistic or pessimistic – the possibilities are endless really.

–          What exactly is happening to this character? Do they go through a learning curve? Do they solve or cause a problem? Do their views change? Or their whole lifestyle? Do they make big changes to their life? Do they worry?

–          Give the character a problem which has to be quickly sorted out. However the readers need to get to know the character first so they can feel sympathetic towards them.

–          Add layers to them – do they have any pets? Siblings? What are their friends like? Do they have children?

–          Give them props that don’t exist directly to the story so for example mentioning an ex-boyfriend or a family member who has passed away. This gives the story a sense of realism.

–          Put things in the reader can identify with for example it can be certain situations such as they have just broken up with their girlfriend etc.

–          It is best to keep the number of characters down otherwise the reader will get confused and won’t bond as much with the characters.

–          Don’t have too many characters, don’t have a boring plotline surrounding them and don’t have dialogue which is not believable.

–          Use around 3-4 characters in a short story, making every character stand out giving them their own voice.

–          Show interactions between the characters.

–          Add an ‘interesting’ character, one that is not particularly likeable. However don’t overdo the ‘baddy’ because they could take over the story, only introduce them briefly.

–          When it comes to killing characters off, write down their roles and what the story would lose if they died. The one with least to lose is the target.

–          When it comes to characters names don’t have them beginning with the same letter because it can cause confusion for the reader. Also avoid similar sounding names and names which are particularly hard to pronounce.

Hope this helps! The next part I write will be on plot lines.

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