Character Building

I’m a fan of Joanne Harris books. Author of Chocolat–fantastic movie. And a variety of other works. She tweeted out Ten Ways to Build Better Characters and thought I’d list them out for my own reference (the author tweets so fast it’s easy to lose track):

  1. It’s OK to identify with your characters. But don’t assume your readers know them as well as you do.
  2. Your characters need a sense of their own identity. They shouldn’t just be you, with better hair.
  3. Your characters exist to bring the story to life for the reader, not to live out your personal fantasy.
  4. Give individual voices to your characters. Don’t make them all sound like you.
  5. Stop thinking of your characters as characters. Start thinking of them as people.
  6. No-one, fictional or otherwise, is without flaws. Flaws are what make a character believable.
  7. Believable characters need something to someone to love, to hate, to hear, to want.
  8. Don’t mistake what YOU want for what the character wants.
  9. However much you care for your character, it doesn’t follow that the reader will. You need to work at it.
  10. Making a character perfect won’t make the reader care. Perfect isn’t believable.

Other Notes:

  • As a side note, my favorite Joanne Harris book is Gentlemen and Players
  • The picture is of an Underwood 5 and Hero with a Thousand Faces (posterized for classic effect). Some stories never grow old.