Creating convincing and engaging characters can be one of the most difficult areas of writing a novel. A story is interesting because of who it’s happening to. Characterization is a vital part of making a story compelling. Characters need to seem real in order to interest and touch readers. Writers achieve this by providing details that make characters individual and true to life. Good description gives readers a strong sense of characters’ personalities and complexities. It makes characters vivid and alive. One of the best ways to get to know your characters is to ask questions about them.
Here are some questions I used to flesh out my characters in my urban fantasy series, The Children of Ekhidna and Typhoeus.
Character Bio: Yarah Mansour
Supernatural or Human: Supernatural / Primordial race, Chimera
General physical description: Black hair, brown eyes, tan skin, middle eastern features
Hometown: Flower City, Maine
Relationship status: Married, wife of Blaire Underhill
Current family: Father, Khalil Mansour
Family background (parents, previous marriages, etc.): Mother & brother deceased
Friends: Leela Sharma
Job: Restaurant owner
Favorite pastimes: goofing off with Leela, going to the movies
Favorite foods: Middle Eastern comfort food, anything eggplant
Strongest positive personality trait: big heart
Strongest negative personality trait: selfish, makes stupid decisions
Sense of humor: slapstick, fart jokes
Consideration for others: overly concerned about the people she loves
Did he/she have a happy childhood? Why/why not?: Yes and no, her parents were strict but caring, things changed after her mother died
What does she care about?: Her restaurant, wife, father and friends
Biggest fear?: losing her restaurant and who she is to her relationship
What is the one word you would use to define her?: beautiful
How other people see her: some see her as fun, ditzy & flaky and others as spoiled & dumb
Philosophy of life: Any mistake can be fixed if you work hard at it
Most important thing to know about this character: She is a recovering addict of drug alchemy
Favorite movies: Star Wars, all of them even the prequels; Flash Gordon; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Barbarella
Favorite TV shows: The Bold and the Beautiful, Guiding Light, Dallas, Star Trek
Favorite books: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Best thing that has ever happened to this character: The day she opened her restaurant
Worst thing that has ever happened to this character: Mother died; She almost overdosed from drugs
This profile is based on Yarah in book one, Hound Dog Confidential. Her life changes in the second book.
“Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. … I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.” — Gore Vidal
“To have a great story and engaging characters, you would need to get under all that hair and makeup to find the not-so-beautiful person beneath who has needs and fears, and believes lies.” — CS Lakin, quote from Ordinary Characters Can Be Extraordinary
“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ― Ernest Hemingway
“Overly tragic back stories played up front are not the way. Characters’ reactions and the way they deal with what’s happening to them in the ‘here and now’ tells us so much more than acres of flashbacks or expositional dialogue about their traumatic childhoods.”
Hope you found this week’s post helpful. You can read the first chapters of my urban fantasy series The Children of Ekhidna and Typhoeus on the books page.
Next week’s blog will share another character bio.
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