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How To Create Realistic Characters in fictional writing

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Creating realistic fictional characters is central to the success of a work of fiction whether it be a novel, a play, a short story or a script. It is essential that your characters resonate and ring true with your audience.
What you'll need: 
Effective, realistic characters should illicit an unconscious recognition on the part of your readers. However, this process isn't always a simple one. Begin by creating a rough outline in the form of a character sketch.
Draw up a character chart. This is an effective tool for creating and developing fictional characters. A character chart is a simple, standardised template with which to draft physical appearance, history and character traits.
Not only should your character chart include all aspects of an individual's physical appearance, it should also outline what Adele Ramet in her book, 'Creative Writing', calls a 'potted history'. This should include in-depth information such as your character's family history, likes and dislikes, idiosyncrasies, formative experiences and childhood.
Place your characters in context. Neither characters nor events exist in a vacuum so situate them in the environment in which you intend to construct your narrative. This simple step will allow you to test for validity and realism. Extensive research may be necessary at this stage if you intend your narrative to take place in a specific period of time with which you are not entirely familiar.
Relate your characters to one another through interaction and dialogue. Dialogue will allow you to sound your characters out and discover whether they come across with authenticity. Adjustments can then be made if necessary.
Make use of sensory information when constructing your characters. Ask yourself questions regarding the sounds, smells, appearance, tastes and feel of both characters and environment.
Be selective when choosing your characters' names. Names can represent specific historical periods and geographical locations. This can be used to great effect but can also work against the realism of a character if their name seems out of place.
A successful, absorbing piece of fiction is a function of the characters who make up the fictional world. Using the ideas above and paying close attention to characterisation will ensure realistic, multi-layered characters.


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