Chapter 1 - The basics, what is a character?

Let’s start with the basics. Before we get carried away trying to make a character interesting, we need to first understand what a character is at its essence. Any ideas?

Put simply, a character is a person in a story. This ‘person’ might be a child, a fairy godmother, a dog, a wizard, a teacher, a tree, a dragon, and many other strange and wonderful things. Similarly, the ‘story’ might be a novel, a short story, a play, a poem, a film, or even a song. A character has feelings, goals, flaws, strengths and weaknesses, just like people in real life do, too. If you were a character in a book, you should be as complicated as you are in real life, with a past, present and future.

Usually, at the end of a story, a character will have changed – and this is the reason we read about characters. If nothing happens to a character, and she doesn’t change in anyway, that’s usually because the story hasn’t quite worked, and makes for a bit of a boring read. If we start reading a story about a young boy who eats lots of toast and wants to be an astronaut, and nothing happens – he doesn’t try to become an astronaut or interact with people or even think about space – we’ll likely stop reading, or at least feel pretty disappointed by the time we get to the end and he’s still just a young boy eating lots of toast. Luckily, there are a lot of easy ways to make the story, and the character, more interesting.

Follow me to Chapter 2, where we’ll learn a special trick for making our characters all the more interesting.