Building Better Characters

[As I locate more information, I will be adding to this guide. You have been warned.]

Writing realistic and fully developed characters is key to grabbing a reader’s attention. You don’t want your character to come off as a trope (ie. “the mean girl” or “the bad boy”). You want your characters to come across as human, so your readers can relate to them.

But how do you do such a thing?

Well, that’s why you’re here. So, I can help you! And to make things easier, I’ll break this down step by step. If you’re interested in a certain aspect of your character, feel free to jump straight to that section. This guide is meant to help you. Use it.

Background Stories

Background stories are used to answer the following question:

“What has [name] been doing with his/her life before the story began?”

Try to give your character a balance of good and bad experiences unless you have a valid reason for giving them an extremely good/bad backstory. For example, if you wanted to create a psychopath or sociopath, you would add all kinds of messed-up things to their backstory.

Don’t know where to start? Try answering these questions about them.


This is the main meat of a character; the part that (almost) everyone focuses in on.

Sure, it might be easy to plan out a basic scheme of your character, but would you serve a cake without the icing? Probably not. Then let’s add some icing and sprinkles to your characters. And these take the form of traits, talents, quirks, and flaws.

I won’t go into much detail on what those are, but instead, I’ll give you some resources so you can choose for yourself what you want for your character. Think of it like a buffet. And for a well-balanced character, you’re going to want to grab things from each area.

Traits: Link 1

Talents: Link 1

Quirks: Link 1, Link 2

Flaws: Link 1, Link 2


Just a few extra resources in case you want to add more to your characters.

1) List of Hobbies

2) Character Development Checklist

3) 100 Jobs for Fantasy Characters

4) Character Checklist

5) Gotham Character Questionnaire

6) Marcel Proust Character Questionnaire

Bringing it all Together

Personally, I find character forms to be very useful, and if you’ve ever participated in an online roleplay before, you might find yourself agreeing with me here. Before I expand on this point, though, it would be best to show you an example so you know what I mean.

Example Character Form




Appearance (picture or description):

Sexual Orientation:




Extra Details:


Hopefully, by this point, you should be able to comfortably fill out that form above for your main character(s). You can fill the form out for as many characters as you’d like, but you only really have to do it for your main character(s).

And… that’s basically all you need to know.

If, after this guide, you have any other questions about character building, feel free to comment them below or ask them via my contact page. I’ll try to get back to you asap.


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