A collage of book and character images related ideas

Source: Book Meme, Alan, Flickr

Have you ever come out of a movie theater and said, “Boy, that was a great movie” or turned the last page of a book and thought, “What an awesome book?” Chances are you have, but have you ever wondered what the screenwriter or the author did to make the book so awesome? If so, you undoubtedly thought about events that happened (the plot); the people, (or animals/objects with human traits) (the characters) to whom events happened; and the places where events happened (the settings).

Together with a few other elements of storytelling such as theme, conflict, use of a narrator, and point of view, these are the basic ingredients that authors use to tell an interesting story. In this lesson, we will concentrate on characters. Specifically, we will focus on how authors use their characters to shape other elements of their stories and how you too can create interesting characters for your own stories.

A collage of character and plot images.

Source: favorites for now, Arianne, Flickr

Characters are an essential part of any story. We tell stories every day. They may be about the drama taking place between two friends or how your parents reacted to your request that they host the soccer team before the school dance. Many (if not all) of these stories involve people and their reactions to events and issues in their lives. Such is the stuff of life. Such is the stuff of stories. A good story allows us to feel that what is happening to the characters is happening to us, giving us a chance to vicariously experience the action and events of the story.

This feeling of connection is why, as a reader, you can usually find a reason to care about fictional characters and stay interested in what happens to them. As a writer, you can keep your readers involved in the stories you write by designing realistic and interesting characters that you would care about if you were a reader of your story.