Writers: 3 Ways to Make Your Characters Come to Life!

09 Feb

In the middle of a draft, have you suddenly felt like you didn’t really know your characters? It’s not a comfortable feeling, especially since you can’t go very far in your writing without a strong sense of just who your characters are. Of course, our characters can and do surprise us occasionally, but that should not be because we as writers don’t know them very well.

Here are three ways to flesh out those characters–and have a lot of fun doing it!

1. Character Interviews. This is not only good for getting to know your characters better, it’s also great for marketing your stories. You can post one of those interviews on your blog.

The easiest way  do a character interview is the simple journalist method: 5 W’s and an H. Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? Simply come up with 6 questions using the ones above and let your characters take it from there. You never know where that will lead you!

2. Pictures. Take some old magazines and find pictures that look like your characters. Cut them out, paste them in a notebook or put them on your bulletin board. Another great place to find pictures is on-line at You go there, set up an account, and you can choose from hundreds and hundreds of pictures for free. (They also sell pictures as well.) Having an actual picture to look at makes description a lot easier.

3. Act Out Scenes as Your Characters. This can be A LOT of fun. Get (or make) costumes and props. Try to find a location for that particular scene for your character(s) as well. Get your spouse and the kids involved. Who knows? They might just help flesh out that scene and your character(s) even more. (Obviously, don’t do something illegal!)

4. Here’s a bonus one: Pray! Writing is a calling and a joy. When you’re stuck, don’t forget about the One who called you to this in the first place. He wants you to succeed. Of course, He will help you, if you ask. He will make your story better even than you ever could have imagined. Go ahead, just see what He can do if you just ask. 😀

We as writers have one of the best jobs in the whole world! It’s a calling and a joy. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

What have you done to help make your characters more real? Let me know in the comments below!



Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Author in the Trenches


Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “Writers: 3 Ways to Make Your Characters Come to Life!

  1. Daniel Koren

    February 9, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Dickens said that his characters would gather around his bed every night and talk to him.
    I often watch my characters in my mind then just write down what they do or say.

    • ChristinaLi

      February 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      One of my favorite authors, LaJoyce Martin, says the same thing as Dickens! My experience has been more like yours so far, kind of like watching a movie unfold. What fun we writers have!

  2. jamesdorrwriter

    February 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Good tips and sometimes useful for more than just character definition. I’ve often suggested “acting out” to members of my writing group as a method of choreographing action scenes in a story. If you’re into sword fights and sword % sorcery, grab a mailing tube or something similar (preferably soft) and get a feel for swinging it around, then describe it in words. Also, concerning pictures, imagine the “movie version” of your story for a scene your character is starring in, then write down what you “see.”

    • ChristinaLi

      February 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Actually, ‘the movie version’ is how I tend to write! I watch the scene unfold in my mind and write it down. I especially appreciate the ‘preferably something soft’ comment you made. I have several willing actors in my children, but they need guidance as to the soft part sometimes! 🙂 We have the plastic light sabers you can get at Wal-Mart and those can smart a bit if they hit just right. Also, they don’t always retract they way they’re supposed to! That can really hurt.
      Thanks so much, James, for your comments! Have a great day!

  3. Dong

    August 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm

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