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Creating Characters in a Story

There is no secret formula for a good story apart from creativity. However, you can use these basic guidelines for creating characters in a story that will grip the attention of the readers from the beginning till the end!
'Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.' - Groucho Marx.

I can never imagine a world without books! The thrill that is experienced in buying a book off the shelf and rushing home to read it especially on a rainy day, curled up in bed is something all book lovers must have done at some point in their lives! Books open up a whole new world of imagination... It takes a person on a different plane altogether. Fiction writing is all about finding a vent for an author's creativity. Such writers not only weave magic through words, they take a reader to a world that is far away from reality. Getting lost in the pages of a book is one of the most beautiful feelings ever.

A look through the bookshelves would reveal a wide range of best selling authors and their masterpieces. How does a writer write such elements of fiction? What is it that makes a story intriguing? What is the secret behind some of the world's most bestselling books? The basic elements in a story are characters, the setting of the story and the main plot. However, it is the original style of a writer which is the main essence of any story!

The characters in a story are something that bind any fictional work. Think about a favorite story or novel, and certain characters always remain etched in our minds forever. Who can forget the eccentric and exceptionally clever Sherlock Holmes! Agatha Christie penned a range of bestsellers in the Hercule Poirot series. This fictional Belgian detective was particularly known for his little gray cells. His waxed mustache and his egg shaped head are such descriptions, Poirot lovers will always remember. The detailing of the character was maintained throughout the series which lent 'life' to Hercule Poirot. So, how does a writer go about creating characters in a story? Well, the actual masters of words do not need a fixed outline. Geniuses in creative writing think of an outline through a natural thought process. However, novices to this field can take a look at some basic steps which are mentioned below.

The name of the character is of utmost importance, especially if you are planning a series. This is based on many other points such as the setting of the story.

Think about the various details of the characters. What is the age of the character? Have you thought about the description? Is it a man, woman or even a fantasy character such as a goblin? What are the basic traits you would like to infuse into this personality? It could be a romantic leading lady or a detective out to set things right. You must plan the basic nature of the character and the role it plays in the story.

Detailing helps if you want this character to be accepted by readers. A character can be one that craves for adventure and takes every risk as a challenge. Details such as height and body weight lend shape to the character(s) in any story. For example, in the popular Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling detailed her characters so that they created a lasting impression. Everybody knows and remembers Harry, Ron and Hermione and even the somewhat insignificant Dobby cannot be forgotten. Dobby's habits such as torturing itself in a bid to avoid speaking the truth to Harry is repeated in the series. Such a simple trait adds more feeling to a character.

The setting of the story dictates other issues about the character such as the name, description and even the locality. Do you remember Andrea Sachs eager to work with Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada? Who can forget Andrea's antics that always irritated prim and proper Miranda! Set against a backdrop based purely on fashion in the busy lanes of Manhattan lends an urban touch to the story. Such is the power of characterization in any story.

Other characters revolving around the main character's life are also of equal importance. Dear Watson always accompanied Sherlock Holmes. The Famous Five were never complete without Timmy the dog!

The characters main aim or goal in the story can also be defined. The character's action helps to shape the story in a particular manner. This is the main essence of any plot. Defining the character will help you to find answers while writing a story.

Characters breathe life into a story. To begin with a basic story idea, working on the characters can help you to prepare a rough outline. The creation of characters is what will help a writer to have a lasting impression on the minds of the reader. Once all the elements are in place, you might even carve a niche for yourself amongst the bestselling authors!
By Kashmira Lad
Last Updated: 9/20/2011
Bouquets and Brickbats
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