Creating characters is a crucial step before writing your novel. Your character’s psychological and physical attributes will determine the way they behave and how others relate to them. It is important to understand the objective of your characters as well as their stakes (what they have to lose or gain).
Take your time when developing characters but don’t get lost in the task. The reader doesn’t need to know the favorite color or zodiac sign of your secondary characters.
Below is a checklist of information you should know about your main characters. For your secondary characters the list might be shorter, depending on the role that they play in your book (or series).
- Physical attributes
- Psychological attributes
- Family & friends
- Background (their childhood, adolescences, etc.)
- Relationship to other characters
- Main goal & what they’re willing to do to get there
- Phrases/specific way of talking
- Habits & mannerisms
It is also helpful to draw an image of your characters or find a photo. This way their appearance stays consistent in your mind.
Each character that you introduce needs to have a purpose. There is no point in introducing Becky the waitress and spending two paragraphs on the way she looks and the way she moves, if Becky is just serving pie. Becky doesn’t need to be a main character but even if she’s a secondary character you need to justify her existence. A secondary character could equip your main character with information or she/he could help drive the story forward through action.
If you feel insecure about the type of speech or mannerism your characters would use, try to have a conversation with them in your head or imagine how they would act in hypothetical situations before writing down any actual scenes of your novel.