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One of the goals as a writer is to create a character that stands out. Your world is unique and wonderfully interesting, but are your characters? Can you tell who is speaking without a tag? Does your character even surprise your reader at times?
Let me give you 7 tips that will help you write unique characters. Let’s go!
Tip 1: Make Their Actions Different, Not Looks
The beginner author will create their unique character by simply giving them a look that is different. Perhaps they dress only in blue or wear clothes from the 19th century. Yet, changing their look doesn’t make them unique. It won’t help separate them from your other characters in your novel.
What will make them stand out is their actions and how they are different from others. Let me propose a scenario to give you a good idea of what I am talking about:
Two characters are arguing when your character approaches. What is your character’s course of action?
Does your character try to mediate, try to incite a more heated argument or perhaps take the side of one of the other characters?
Through simple situations such as this, you can convey your character’s personality with ease.
Tip 2: Prejudices, Enemies, Faults and Fears
While it is easy to create friends and build relationships, the foundation of development is conflict. The resolutions of conflicts perfectly shape a character and their path in the novel. What better way to create conflict than by giving your character unique prejudices and enemies?
By this point in your character’s creation, you have no doubt decided on their place in the novel. Yet, to make them stand out you need to give them beliefs that create conflict. Prejudice for a certain character or certain side of a conflict is a great way to do this.
In addition, what are your character’s enemies? Does your character have a problem with them or do they have a problem with your character? In essence, will there be a scene down the line where your unique character confronts someone they are prejudiced against or perhaps have a conflict with?
Finally, what are their faults and fears? It is easy to tell the reader what the character is good at, but what do they struggle with? Could it be they are afraid of the dark or that they are not good runners? Of course, these faults and fears need to play a part in your novel, otherwise, there is no point in including them.
Yet, if you do decide upon a fault or fear to give our character, it will go a long way in making them unique, not to mention believable.
Tip 3: Give Them Their Part of the World
When I say give your character a part of the world, I don’t mean a part in the world. Your character has a part in it already, otherwise, you would have never created them. Yet, what part of the world are they comfortable in? Where do they feel most at home?
Let’s create a scenario for your character:
Your character is in trouble. It could be a personal conflict or something simple and they need a place to go. In which case, where do they go to escape? Or better yet, who do they go to for an escape?
A deeper question which will help highlight the troubles of your character, but more uniquely, it will highlight what is important to them. It will tell the reader more about the character’s comfort zones, what they feel strongly about and perhaps who they will protect with their life.
Tip 4: Give Them a Unique Goal
In most novels, it is easy to say what each character’s main goal is. For main protagonists, it is to put a stop to anything that jeopardises their safety or those that they care for. For antagonists, it is to destroy all that they despise.
Yet, for a unique character, their goals should not be so black-and-white. For a unique character, their goals should involve a character, protagonist or antagonist. Their ambitions aren’t set on the world as a whole, so to speak, but on other characters that help them or hinder them.
Your character could be on a journey of self-discovery, looking to protect someone or take revenge on someone else. In order to achieve their goal, the unique character will side with whoever they need to. That way they play a part, but it isn’t a simple one.
These unique goals make for interesting character developments if the character achieves or fails to achieve them. Bear this in mind when creating your character and you will have no problem in making them stand out. A great benefit if you want to make your world feel larger and full of life.
Tip 5: Give Them Unique Phrases and Speech
One problem that is evident in beginner writing is dialog. Dialogue is often written without personality in mind, resulting in lines that sound like they are being spoken by the same person. In order to combat this and create more unique characters, you need to change the way your characters speak.
You can do this by either giving them particular phrases that suit their background or personality. For example, supposing your character comes from a rough background, yet is strong and confident. The words your character will then use will be bold and informal.
On the opposite end of this spectrum, a nervous character who had an average upbringing might stammer and use more polite language. It is differences like this that need to be highlighted in your dialogue. If you don’t, the speakers will never stand out.
With that in mind, your goal through these dialogues is simple. You want your reader to read a line of dialogue and know who is speaking. Once you have done that you have nailed personality through dialogue and your characters are far more memorable than they were before.
Tip 6: Grow Them, Don’t Change Them
Now, this tip is in regards to the scenes throughout your novel. Character development is a phrase thrown around a lot, but to put it simply, your characters need to grow, not change.
By this I mean your character needs to change themselves through lessons learned along their journey. Perhaps they are saved by somebody they feared, perhaps their unique way of speaking gets them into more trouble than they ever expected. Anything that can throw your character into a conflict that has them second-guessing who they are.
It is only this way you should develop your character, as they don’t simply change. There needs to be a reason for their development, so give them one. It takes time and some lessons won’t have such a dramatic effect straight away, but including such scenes will help create a unique and realistic character.
Tip 7: Give Them Values, Give Them Choices
Speaking of development, let us talk about what you will be developing. The values and beliefs of a character have an effect on how they interact with other characters and what decisions they make throughout the novel.
The values given to these characters are often values displayed by someone they look up too. A hero became a hero because they idolised a hero. Their morality was defined by those who they found inspirational and desirable. With that in mind, there is plenty of room to create a unique character.
Let us suppose your character has the values that they have because of their past. You can decide who influenced them and then put those values in the spotlight. Once there, you can see if these values hold up or not.
Your character meets someone strange who asks the character to trust them. Your character could read people easily and decide to trust them or not based on that gut feeling. Or, your character could not read people so well. In that case, your character might put their trust in someone bad or not trust someone good.
The variety of options are many, but it is when your character is confronted with such conflicting ideas that their uniqueness is most profound. Your character could be diplomatic or confrontational and their choices could have a positive or negative result. All of this will make your character different from any other.
With that, this article comes to an end. It is important to understand that creating a unique character requires effort and forethought. Yet, if you keep these seven tips in mind you should have little to no difficulty in overcoming that challenge.
Thank you for reading and as always…
Good day, goodnight and happy writing!
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