5 Key Elements of a Great Character – Mary Frenson | Guest Post

Often the difference between a good story and a great story is a well-written character. You can have the best possible plot replete with twists and turns that not even Sherlock Holmes could see coming, but you will waste your efforts unless you have a character as strong as Sherlock Holmes.

A strong character is what draws the reader in, it’s what makes the story relatable and engaging. So, when you sit down to write your short story, your novel, or your screenplay moulding a great character should be on top of your list. If you have no idea where to start, fear not! In this article, you will see five key elements to creating a great character.


1. Get real

The first thing you need to do is set out to create a character that is as real as possible. As I mentioned above, people who read stories or watch them on-screen are always looking to relate to the characters being portrayed. When the reader relates to a character a connection is made that makes them enjoy the text and allows them to get lost in the story.

However, if you create an unrealistic character, this can be a strong turn-off for the reader and that all important connection might not be made. So, avoid things like making your character too much of one thing and not enough of something else, aim for balance as well as characteristics of real people.


2. Obstacles

A big part of making a connection with the reader is making your character sympathetic, and the best way to do this is to give them obstacles to face. When the reader sees the character in some form of trouble, not only will they be able to relate to it, but they will also be rooting for the character to overcome the struggle.

So, whether your character needs to find his/her way home or some form of redemption or revenge, make sure they have an obstacle in their way to create a compelling story as well as a compelling character.


3. External and internal conflict

When you read some of the great works of fiction, you will notice that nearly all of those books have something in common: conflict. The fact is conflict is always interesting and instilling some within your character is always a good idea.

You can have the internal conflict of someone loving two people at the same time and not knowing what to do or the external conflict of a mysterious villain trying to harm your character. Either way, conflict works!


4. Well-rounded: strengths and flaws

As mentioned above, balance is key when creating a great character and if you want the reader to be interested in your protagonist, they need to be well-rounded. When you have a character with only positive attributes and can do no wrong, it gets boring quickly for your readers. On the other hand, a character who only fails is just as boring; so make a character with a fair amount of both strengths and flaws, but most importantly, make them human.


5. Make your character stand out from the crowd

Lastly, one of the most important aspects of creating a great character is making them stand out from the crowd. It’s no good having a main character who is just like everyone else, otherwise you will have a story filled with supporting roles. The worst thing you can do is create a basic or stock character, so be sure to make them simultaneously imperative and unique to the story and the surrounding characters.


There you have it. These are the five key elements to creating a great character. Make sure you use this article for guidance the next time you are in front of the big blank page because using the above tips and tricks will ensure you have a memorable multifaceted character at the forefront of your story.


Mary Frenson is a Marketing Assistant at Checkdirector.co.uk, a new source of information on UK companies. Mary is always happy to share her marketing ideas and thoughts on business issues. In her free time she enjoys handicrafts.

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