Creating real characters

I just had to redo my villains in my story. They were simply too…flat. There was nothing to them. No back story, no depth and worse, no reason for doing what they were doing.

Since I was redoing them, I thought, heck and I started to redo two other villains as well. To do it, I sat and thought: Okay, so this guy is a jerk. He hurts women. Why does he do it? How does he justify it? And how is he hurting in his life (so that he’s not a simply evil man without any redeeming qualities)?

I basically wrote a backstory to them. One was abused as a child, one had tried to avoid the pain he felt living with his alcoholic family of origin by choosing a doing a job he hated and now, with four kids, he was trapped in doing something he disliked every day.

These weren’t main characters in my story. They were in only two or three scenes in the entire thing. Still, once I know them well, I can write them in so much better. Their dialogue comes alive and they develop quirks and mannerisms that suit their personality.

They come alive in the story because they’re alive for me.

But let’s face it, I’m no Nora Roberts. What do I know?

Well, these people know. Check out this little group of links on how to write great characters. Hopefully, one will suit your style!

Elizabeth S. Craig has this great post on Help with Character Development. In it she has a ton of other links to help out with everything from worksheets to examples. An excellent post and one with many possibilities.

Janice Hardy has this post with a list for an antagonist and this one for a protagonist! Absolutely awesome posts.

And this one is for supporting characters! Let’s not forget those. A great post by Nancy Parker.

Info dumps

I too have had trouble with the dreaded ‘info-dump’. I knew better than to start a story with the entire character back story but I couldn’t see how to get it in there. Then, I spotted a dialogue and thought, perfect!


My dialogue went something like this:

Anna: “Hi, Roberta. How are you?”

Roberta: “Hi, Anna. I’m better thanks. I’m almost over my cold, though it certainly wasn’t as bad as the pneumonia I had when you were in love with Henry but he back stabbed you by going out with Louisa and you heard about it through your best friend Veronica by accident. How are you?”

It was a disaster.

So, how does a pro do it? Well, I got a link or two for you. 😀

Janice Hardy does such a good job of explaining it here, I couldn’t resist putting a link. She’s a pro and she explains it so much better than I ever could. Here is another post on what an info dump is and how to avoid them. And finally, this one on how to weave information into the story naturally.

A big thanks to her for those awesome posts!!