Contrary to what many writers think, the name doesn't make the character. The name is only incidental and is used to identify the character, but it doesn't make the character. Save naming your characters last. Focus first on defining your characters in terms of personality, family, relationship, situation, education, job and any other number of things that can form the individuals in question.
2. Watch people.
Take a day off and go sit in a cafe for an hour or two and just watch people. This is a fun activity and extremely useful when it comes to defining your characters and giving them specific mannerisms and nuances. Many writers find people watching a major source of inspiration. You can observe how people interact, you can get ideas for personality traits, and you can formulate your own view of just how different people are. Life would be boring if all people were the same; the same applies to the characters in your book too!
3. Write down key story points.
This can help you make your characters different from each other. How would each of your characters react in specific events? Reactions to certain situations are often used to define people -- in the press and on TV, for instance.
4. Read other authors' works.
Reading the works of other authors can give you ideas as to what kind of information you can use to make your characters different from each other. Check out novels by popular or bestselling authors. You're certain to pick up a thing or two from reading their work.
5. Brainstorm your characters.
This allows you to build up individual character profiles. You can compare the character profiles so you can look over each of your characters and identify and eliminate any major similarities that could actually lead to your characters become carbon copies of each other. Make notes about your characters and keep those notes handy; you can refer back to those notes in case you stray later and begin to get characters confused.
More than anything, your character profiles are useful tools you can use when you are writing your story.
You can refer to these profiles whenever you need to to make sure your characters are consistent with their personality and that they aren't starting to act like the same people.
Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
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Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ