How To Create Realistic Characters

Hot and sexy characters win out

How does life differ from fiction, you may find yourself asking yourself. The most common answer I’ve heard at least is that fiction has to make sense, life does not. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of novel writing are the characters and what do you do with them.

We can gain insight into our characters by looking within ourselves.

As the Greek gods are doing in the photograph, we must look within ourselves to find something we can believe in.



Not only must we find the character, but we also have to build him, create his life much like God created Adam out of clay, for indeed we are playing at god when we write. And as we play at god, we should make sense of the lives we create. I mean they can’t just start begetting people. They are not to be taken on faith, because faith has no place in fiction. They must be drawn from within our own souls.

Hemingway said, “…Whatever success I have had has been through writing what I know about.” And then when we do that, we can make them real.

Truth is the most important part of writing. For, as Mark Twain once said, “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything.” How true. For example, in literature at least you shouldn’t have your killer do some good deed like save a tiny bird from a cat, and have him in the next chapter, mutilate a young woman and enjoy it. You could have him love and cherish his pet birdie, only to cook it alive in the next chapter. That would be cool.

James Campbell
LONDON – APRIL 20: James Patterson, the best selling author in the world, attends The London Book Fair 2009 at Earls Court on April 20, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)

Building an outline often helps. Starting from the bones, and adding flesh. James Patterson works religiously with this method. There is a man I admire greatly. I actually know him on a personal level. I once took his online course in the Master Class series, “James Patterson Teaches Writing,” and I felt a personal connection. He actually talked to me, though like on TV he couldn’t see me, but I could see him. 

That’s the truth.

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