The Costumer - December 2020

Artwork by Chad Schimke in homage to The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


THE WRITE CHARACTERS - So you’ve had your characters do things (plot) and feel things (emotion). But that’s not all there is to writing. Nope. Writing a fully realized character that transforms is critical to crafting good fiction. How does your character react to what’s happening? How is your character different than anyone else? Is your wooden character predictable? Answer these questions, since that’s what drives the story forward. Here are some important points to consider. Physical appearance – Do this first. Fix an image in your mind and fill out a description thumbnail sketch. Writing indistinguishable characters is one of the worst mistakes a writer can make. Begin scenes with sparing description and devote more detail to major characters. Main characters - The strongest characters are at least somewhat based on a real person. Tap into their qualities, get behind their motivations and analyze their quirks. Dissect the psychology of why they do what they do. Also, all characters (at least somewhat) fall into a type or archetype. Minor characters - You are going to have more and less important characters as you go along. Sometimes it won’t be immediately clear. But as you write, your story will reveal itself to you. Bit parts should have less detail. Always provide a line of description and name characters except for the most insignificant. Character archetypes - Be wary of stereotypes such as making your character too heroic or too villainous. Avoid stock characters that come across as cliché. Know the examples (protagonist, antagonist, hero, villain, mentor, love interest, sidekick, stock characters, jock, princess, nerd, outcast, rebel, etc.) so you know when to break them. Character names - Pick a name that evokes feeling or ties back into the story arc thematically. Select each name beginning with a different hard consonant. Name characters with vowels sparingly or not at all. Character arc – This point is the most important and won’t be done until you’ve reached the end. The constellation of secondary characters are there to support the main character’s change in outlook. This isn’t accomplished on a page or within a chapter. Your main character has to undergo some type of transformation.




  1. Oh my gosh, so much useful information! I don't know what to download first. :) Thank you.

  2. I stashed 3 chapters of a book that I am terrified to go back to, I will never get published at that rate. This helps!

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have a slew of character personas I want to develop but not sure how or where to start. This is extremely helpful.

  4. Excellent article and wonderful resources. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

  5. I'm not sure how important it is for all characters to have names. There's a trend towards nameless protagonists. There were a few articles about it in 2015 (most of them reference The Rise of the Nameless Narrator in The New Yorker).