Episode 27: How to Create Compelling Characters

In which Robynne and Jane talk about creating complex, compelling characters. And before you nonfiction writers tune out. This isn’t just for fiction writers … or for memoirists and narrative nonfiction writers. Everyone needs to know how to make characters sing.

Robynne starts with discussing the importance of understanding the whole character you’re writing about, not just the 45-year-old man he is in your story. Knowing your character’s background, and what formed them, helps your reader to understand words and actions in the present. But for your reader to understand that, you must first flesh out your character in your own mind.

Jane and Robynne throw in a Writing 101 tip before launching into the list of “creating compelling characters” tips: No character (person) is either all good or all bad. If your protagonist is a saint, he will be hard to identify with. If your antagonist is evil incarnate, he’s two-dimensional and weak.

And then, of course, we launch into specifics for creating a character with depth and resonance and deep, compelling interest. Knowing the stakes of the main character is important. And then knowing what your main character is after will help you craft the nuances of your character’s personality.

Listen in for the rest of our tips for making sure your characters are so riveting your reader can’t put the book down.