Characters make your story moving. Essentially, they are the life of the story, and so may it be a person, an animal or an inanimate object (in fables), your readers must be able to relate to them. From a reader’s point of view, I want books with characters that are too relatable I could imagine them standing and dancing and breathing in front of me. Character development is also something that I look for when I read books, and this is not exclusive just for romance.
How are you going to make your characters relatable to your readers? Basically, you just make sure that your characters act, think, and react the way real human beings do. In other words, make them three-dimensional. You have to be particular in all the details of your characters, and to do this, you have to describe them just like how you’d answer a slum book.
These are the basic details about your characters – name, age, where they live, school/workplace. Do your characters still live with their immediate families? Siblings, do they have any? And if so, how many? Are they the eldest, middle child or the youngest? Are they coming from a rich family? Or they need to work to provide for the family as well as school? These things are important because these would determine and justify the actions and decisions of your characters once the story starts rolling.
Make your characters flawed and vulnerable
While Do Min Joon (My Love From the Star) and Vice-Chairman Lee (What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim) appear to be perfect in all life aspects, they are still flawed in so many ways. Do Min Joon’s love for Cheon Song Yi and his superpowers gradually leaving him made him lose his invincibility as the modern day Superman who doesn’t give a damn to humanity. On the other hand, Young-joon is still suffering from a trauma brought about by his tragic childhood. While it’s too good to fall in love with a guy who’s rich, famous, and good-looking, it’s going to bore you eventually. Remember, even Superman has kryptonite.
A personality quirk
Apart from making them vulnerable, give your characters a remarkable trait – something that would make your readers remember them. I must admit that I’m guilty of not making my characters more interesting, and this should help us come up with better ones. It doesn’t have to be an extraordinary trait like having a third-eye or being capable of allowing people to time travel. San Chai (Meteor Garden) has been known for as the only student in Ying De University who has a scooter instead of car, and the only person known to defy the powerful F4. And how can we forget the quirky Cheon Song Yi (My Love From The Star) who’s rich and famous but would mistake coffee for cotton. Or food supplement for a legit prohibited drug. Not that I’m saying being low-key dumb is a good personality for a character (hey, I love Song-yi to the moon and back) – but I figure you get the picture.
Tell me who your friends are and I tell you who you are
What kind of environment do your characters have? Are they surrounded by people who are gentle and caring, or with people who do not know nothing but violence? This helps big time in fleshing out your character, and will make it easier to figure out how your characters make decisions as you write your story. Keep in mind that good friends do not automatically mean good characters, and bad friends mean bad characters. Sometimes, your characters would want to react differently to the people that surround them based on their vulnerability (see second point).
I’m citing examples from Asian dramas instead of actual romance books because these are the usual premise of the books I’ve edited. They’re Wattpad stories that gained millions of readers’ attention which warranted them to be published. But remember kids, it doesn’t hurt to clean your stories a little bit for a more enjoyable read.
To make this even much easier, I’ve prepared a sample questionnaire to fill out. Imagine you are the character of the story you’re about to write. How are you going to answer these questions?
Mom, mom’s occupation:
Dad, dad’s occupation:
Siblings – sisters, brothers:
Where they live: is it a lavish neighborhood, or a slum area
Favorites – food, color, TV shows, movie, hobby, season, holiday:
Who are their friends/acquaintances:
What kind of people surround them:
Let’s get personal
What is love?
Define an ideal date:
Most embarrassing moment:
Childhood memory to remember:
The things you like:
The things you hate:
What are the dreams/goals you want to be with:
Who is your first love?
How do you plan to tell your crush you like him/her?
Any other comments:
Feel free to add more questions if you wish. Take note that this is just a guideline in creating your characters. But this should make it easier to write the story, because you personally know the people the story. Kinda like writing a story about your friends. Also, knowing your characters aren’t limited to the questions above. Always go back to the question you had when you were coming up of story ideas: what if?
I really hope this helps you in any way. If you’re still not sure how to do this, you can leave a comment below.
Good luck, and stay sane!