There is so much that goes into writing a compelling novel
but one of the most important aspects is the characters. It's one of the most exciting parts of writing, getting to create the people who show up in the story. I mean you get to imagine and then build up this three-dimensional person, how cool is that? I love this aspect of writing. The key to making strong, compelling, likeable characters is knowing them. It doesn't matter who the character is, the main character who the story is about or a character who only shows up once, the author has to have a really good idea who they are or they'll fall flat - the characters not the writer.
Something I learned several years ago in writing, was that to be able to really write interesting and engaging characters, the author needs to know them really well. The author needs to know more then they will ever write about - there are the obvious physical things like height, weight/size, eye-color, hair-color, etc. but they also need to know what makes them tick, what makes them who they are. The best advice I was ever given was to interview them - know who they are, where they grew up, what was their home life like, what were they like in school, who was their family, what was the family dynamics like, what did they want to be when they grew up, what jobs did they hold, who was their first love, what were their hobbies, who were or are their friends, etc. I treat them like they're real people with real lives. The better I know and understand my characters the better I understand what drives them to act the way they do, do the things they do. It will mean that they are more life-like, more real to the reader, who will get a feel for them and be able to connect with them. I think as an author the best gift I can give the reader is a character who is someone they feel they know, they can relate to, they can like or dislike, they are someone they buy into.
In Deceitful Truths, Tarin, is the main character, who this story this really about. She has lived a wealthy but rather sheltered, cold and very structured life, so when she finds herself in a very awful situation, she does what she was taught - she finds a man to look after her and her problem. Only then does she discover what a mistake that was as it only threw her into another nightmare, so then she is forced to step way out of her comfort zone to do that. So first, I had to know all of her history, some of which I share throughout the story but lots I don't. I had to know what would compel her to finally take charge of her life and go against all that she'd been taught. What would make her do things that were not part of her upbringing or who she was? How would she deal with doing things she wouldn't normally do? Who would she be once she discovered who'd been screwing with her life?
What really brings a character to life, though, is often the little things - the little quirks they have, the way they talk, how they interact with others, how they dress, what they wear, how they react to things, etc. These are all important aspects that add another dimension to the people in my story. It also helps the reader to identify who the character is, simply from one of these quirks.
So when creating characters, I spend time with them, I figure out who they are. The more I know, the more well-rounded and real my characters are. It takes a little bit of extra work but I find that it helps me to keep my characters in character and my story on track.
What makes a character real for you?