How to Create Fictional Characters

Creating fictional characters can be a lot of fun to do. Using your imagination to create a believable figure outside of the norm is challenging too. If a writer writes well, these fictional characters become real to readers. When a fictional character becomes real, their role in your story can make them be loved, desired, less desired, and even despised.


That’s truly powerful.


Putting together a fictional character can be hard and at times daunting, but it should not be cumbersome or annoying. If so, scrap your idea and try for a different character that you could love and admire or even love to hate. You need passion with that person/ thing you create so your writing will exemplify the degree of your understanding of that character and can hone in your reader by getting them attracted to the story, intrigued by your characters, fascinated by their journey they are undertaking, and so forth.

In order to flesh out your characters and make them believable to you and your readers, you need to collect information about them.


Creating fictional characters needs brainstorming. Ask question after question to flesh out the character(s) you want in your story.

  • What matters most to them?
  • What specific goal do they want to reach by the end of your story, and why?
  • What do they fear the most?
  • What do they need to learn?
  • Ask the 5 W’s and the 1 H – who, what, where, when, why, how … this will help you drill down answers to your character’s motives, desires, thoughts, reasons they react the way they do
  • Be creative – give them a quirk, a habit, a tattoo. Make them stand out.
  • How do they fit in your story?
  • Why would your reader care about him/her/it?
  • What makes your character extraordinary?
  • Do they contradict themselves? Do they think one way but react the opposite? Why?


Brainstorm the types of characters that will fit in your story.

  • How do they interact with others in your story?
  • What conflicts can you create that will force them into action?
  • What lesson do they need to learn by the end of the story?
  • What personal growth will occur in them at the end of the story? They need to take a spiritual journey and transform at the end of the story.
  • How do they start at the beginning of your story – what do they think/ believe about themselves, their life, and the world?
  • What circumstances force them to change their thinking and behavior by the end of the story?


It’s more than what your character looks like, it’s what they need to learn, how they grow, what impacts them for changing their ways.

  • What dynamics can you instill in a character that makes them intriguing to a reader?
  • What will your character learn about himself, others, the world around him/her that changes their way of thinking?


Visuals – having a picture of your character in front of you while writing their biography, and while story writing can inspire you to believe this person/ thing is real. Having a visual can spur your imagination further.

  • If you can already imagine your character(s) – can you draw them?
  • If you can’t draw, can you find a picture on the internet, in a magazine, or family photobook – if so copy, print, or cut them out and keep them in front of you while you write.


Ask your Character questions directly and visualize how they respond:

  • Look at your picture(s) of your characters
    • Can you imagine how they talk?
    • What mannerisms do they use?
    • What interests them?
    • Why would readers love this character?
    • What can s/he do? Why and How?


Keep Brainstorming – get those creative juices flowing


Put a few of your characters together and get some dialogue going. Throw a conflict in and see how they react to it and each other.


Create character interviews – sit back, imagine your character, visualize him/her in your head. What are they doing right now? What is their favorite book, hobby, food, do they have siblings and are they close to them? What do they fear and why? How do they deal with their fears? What do they love the most? What would they do if they lost that love?

Character interview can help you get in the mind of that character to help you intimately understand how they tick.


All the information you collect only helps you as an author to get an understanding and closeness to the characters you have created. It’s not meant for you to list or divulge all these details into your novel. Actually withholding a lot and giving the reader little could spur curiosity in readers that will keep them reading, in hopes of learning more about your character in order to understand why they did what they did. Which you should divulge at some point, only if you dangle a carrot that intrigues curiosity.


The better you know your characters the more enhanced your stories will become. The more enhanced, the more interest you will obtain from your readers.


Storing your collected information can be done in many ways. Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, hand written pages, word documents, scrivener, ywriter, and MS Access Databases that you can create or use a pre-made affordable version at


Written by Deborah @ (DCS) where Creative People Make Awesome Databases for Personal Use, Businesses, and for Writers.


photo credit: Leonard J Matthews <a href=”″>Frozen Birthday</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>



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