Characters are what makes your story come alive. Their distinctiveness gives the pasta depth. This article aims to provide tips on how to create good characters, as one of the most important elements of the story.
You don't have to start off right away when it comes to introductions. And when you do, make sure it's not absolutely abrupt. Here is an example of something you should *not* do:
It was a dark, gloomy night.
My name is ___, I'm __, etc.
If you wish to go for a start that drops the reader into the story almost immediately, do not introduce yourself randomly after the first few lines. Try to bring out the character as you narrate. Let him/her have emotions, thoughts and ideas that bring out his/her character without any explanation. Or perhaps you can introduce yourself when it's apt to do so. For example, say you start of a story with this:
It was a dark, gloomy night.
Here you describe the scene
Here you state how the character feels in such an atmosphere
Here you add a shocking element eg: your character is completely alone, and he/she feels a soft tap on her shoulder.
But perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself
And HERE you give the introduction.
You don't even need the intro there, but you fit it in with the rest of the story, and that's good enough. You can pop in things about your character in the middle of pastas, but when it comes to introducing your character, if you can't do it in the beginning, don't.
So the bottom line here is, lead to it slowly. The above example is awfully cliche, so don't use it when you're actually writing a story. It's simply an example. You don't even have to give an introduction for most characters. In fact, many stories do not even reveal the name of the main character, and that is simply because it just doesn't come up. The name is not really important, it's the person, and how real he seems to the reader. Characters with a nature that makes him seem like a real person make the entire story seem more real.
Sometimes, a story starts off with an introduction. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as it's written well, and it leads into the story gradually. You can't have something along the lines of, perhaps:
Hi! I'm John!
It was a dark, gloomy night.
And that's what quite a few (you'd be surprised how many) badly written pastas sum up to if you remove all the unnecessary details. The pasta has to have a consistency to it. Either the story can lead to the character introduction or vice-versa. You could have something like this instead:
Hi! I'm John!
Here you add details. eg: I like candy.
Which is exactly the reason why I'm in this mess today. You see, there's a candy shop downtown that...
And then maybe he can be abducted/poisoned/etc. Of course, when it comes to consistency, you cannot add a happy narration of what your character is like if he has been abducted. Try putting yourself in John's shoes. You wouldn't be very happy about it, would you? So cut out the enthusiastic intro (Hi! I'm John!).
But remember, pleading for help in the beginning of the pasta makes your character seem shallow and stupid. It's something along the lines of:
Oh my god I'm abducted help me
It all started with this candy shop downtown that...
Honestly, you are creating your character to tell a story, not to plead for help. If you wanted to call for help by posting on the internet, you could leave your name, location and reason. Straight to the point. Here, you have a story to be shared. Make sure your character is in a safe location and in a calm state of mind while he's writing this, because then the pasta simply isn't credible.
Names don't matter, really. If you wish to have some sort of symbolism in your character's name, make sure he/she states what it is. The reader won't know otherwise.
If you're having trouble coming up with names, try this name generator: http://www.behindthename.com/random/
Your character is like a painting. Each one depends on the artist's style. Go out, observe the way people walk, talk, speak, etc. Observation makes your character come alive. If you've paid close attention to details, then you have pretty strong character to work with.
Your character must think for himself/herself. In a difficult situation in the story, ask yourself what you'd do in his/her place. Then let him/her do exactly that. Don't try to be a hero, because everyone has weaknesses, and this is what makes them human. Flaws in your character's personality make him human. When you're going for a normal, everyday person, try to describe someone you already know. Describe that person fully, pointing out all his flaws and good characteristics.
Make him/her unique in his/her own way. You don't have to, but it's a good idea. Perhaps you could have a character who id unique simply because he/she's not unique in any way. It's good enough.
Most characters on pastas that have been deleted are, quite bluntly, like mannequins. Made to look perfect, and really stupid when it comes to making decisions. Simply, they are destined to die. If you want to kill one of your characters, make him/her put up a fight. If he/she doesn't, give him/her a reason to do so. Try not to make it some sort of noble reason, because that makes your story like a fairy tale. You don't want that. Exceptions can be made, but the reason must be really good.
Every person has a fear of dying. If you don't, good for you. When it comes to your character, mortal fear must come to him naturally. While playing a haunted video-game, perhaps, your character must be smart enough to shut it down when it says 'you're gonna die!'. Bad idea to add that message if you make a video game pasta, though. I'm simply giving an example.
Decision making abilitiesEdit
This is an extension of everything already stated. You cannot have a character who makes all the wrong decisions. This, other than making your character look stupid, makes the story predictable. Perhaps one wrong decision that leads to a mess. That will have to suffice.
If your story depends on it, force him/her to by an physical factor in the story. An emotional factor is okay, but not all the time. Remember, your character is not suicidal even if he/she's said it himself/herself. Mortal fear lurks within us all.
All sorts of fears lie within us. Your character's personality and fears can affect his/her decisions. Not everyone takes the same road, but everyone takes the road that seems less dangerous. Here, 'dangerous' is in context to life and death situations. If you're adventurous, you can take the dangerous way, but not if it means death. Your character can take risks, sure, but you must remember that he/she must be brave, not foolish.
In a nutshell, mortal fear holds a spot of superiority in our minds. Say, your character is torn between having to jump into a river from a cliff or being hunted by his/her kidnapper/killer/etc. He'd most probably jump. However, as it was stated before, people don't always make the same decisions. Maybe your character is awfully afraid of heights. Perhaps he'd choose to stay on the cliff.
Before your character makes any decisions, ask yourself what you'd do. Or perhaps ask someone else who can answer truthfully.
Let your character have a life! He/she cannot be confined to one story. Create memories, dreams, inspirations, goals, fears, hobbies, obsessions, etc for him/her to speak of. Give him/her a family and a past. Create a fond memory. Details matter when it comes to making your character life-like.
Take John's example again.
The candy shop was...
Here you describe it
But the place seemed held a special significance to me.
Here you describe John's memory of whatever the heck the shop reminded him of
You can add sentiment this way, too. Memories serve to bring out the character's personality and history. They become hazy over time, so there can be a bit of uncertainty when it comes to this. Your character does not have to be deeply attached to the memory; it could simply be something he's reminded of. Back stories support introductions, and lead to the main plot quite smoothly. They also make sure that your character isn't confined to a single topic, and isn't perceived by the reader as 'obsessive'.
- Character descriptions shouldn't be done excessively, but you may use the above tips when you need to. The story most certainly matters much more than the characters, but they are a link to interacting with the events that take place, so do not make this link a weak one.
- Use the tips mainly for main characters. Secondary ones may have a short introduction and shorter backstory, but don't beat around the bush.
- Your character's actions matter. Make sure they are credible.
- Your character as a whole, does not have to be a being of perfection, unless he/she is simply not human. He/she can make mistakes, it's alright. But too many will make him/her a weak character.
- You don't need to use the tips like rules. They're simply suggestions. You don't have to make a character that abides by everything mentioned.
- These tips are general in nature, and may vary with usage.
- This article will be updated from time to time.