Characters are not part of the story…they are the story.
Readers have a lot of choice when it comes to books, and they are looking to spend time with characters who remind them of themselves in a meaningful way.
Even if a character is larger-than-life, they should act as a mirror, making mistakes, fearing failure, and facing hardship just as people do.
They will have:
Morals & Beliefs
Skills & Abilities
These things (and more), shape who they are and how they see the world. They influence their relationships, goals, comfort zone, and ability to take risks. Because of this, the more we know about a character, the easier it is to write their actions, decisions, choices, and behaviors.
Writing realistic characters who remind readers of their own struggles and challenges is a key element to a great story. Here are some resources to help you:
Descriptive Thesaurus Database
You might be familiar with our show-don’t-tell writing guides— our Descriptive Thesaurus collection. Each book takes an important aspect of storytelling and dives deep into it, showing you how to use that element in a story. Most of our guides focus on characters because they are the GODS OF STORY.
But here’s a secret…only some of our completed thesaurus guides are in book format. A far larger collection lives at One Stop for Writers, our site that pairs writers with incredibly helpful tools and resources to make writing so much easier.
The One Stop for Writers Database can help you brainstorm:
One Stop also has game-changing tool when it comes to character creation. The Character Builder contains all of our character-specific thesaurus description and prompts you with ideas as you brainstorm your story’s players. But it’s also hyper-intelligent—meaning, it identifies key information that will become part of their character arc.
Wait…it can do WHAT?
(I know, right? And it gets better.)
The Character Builder then takes this information and creates an accurate Character Arc Blueprint for the character, providing you with all the pieces you need to plot the story! You can even change the arc to “failed” to see what the story looks like if your character DOESN’T succeed.
Check out this fully completed character PDF (the Character Arc Blueprint is in the MOTIVATION section) to see what your character might look like. You also can view a walkthrough of the Character Builder to see what it has to offer. Have a watch, then try it yourself using One Stop’s Free Trial.
More Character Resources:
Free WHW Character Downloads
One Stop for Writers’ Character Builder (Here’s one we built: Paul Graham.)
Character Templates and Worksheets
Descriptive Thesaurus Database
Character Role Guide <- Super helpful for character brainstorming!
Character Secrets Generator
Internal Growth Generator
A Master List of Character-Building Resources
How Much Character Building Should I Do? (Protagonist, Love Interest, Antagonist)
How Much Character Building Should I Do? (Sidekicks, Mentors, Friends, Minor Characters & Others)
Character Building for Pantsers
3 Ways to Differentiate our Characters
How to Get Readers to Connect to Your Characters
Personality Traits: Building a Balanced Character
Does Your Character Have a Secret?
Creating Memorable Characters by Focusing on the Little Things
How a Career Can Reveal Your Character’s Inner Layers
Determining a Character’s Emotional Range
Antagonists, Villains & Anti-Heroes:
Writing Antagonists Readers Can’t Help But Like
Creating a Moral Villain
Does Your Villain Have Well-Developed Motivations?
The Secret for Creating a Really Good Bad Guy
Redeeming a Villain
What American Horror Story Taught Me About Anti-Heroes
How to Write a Compelling Anti-Hero
The Difference Between an Antagonist & a Villain
Character Arc & Story Influence:
Character Arc in a Nutshell
The 6 Stages of Character Arc
How Character Attributes and Flaws Work Within Character Arc
How Internal Conflict Fits into a Character’s Arc
Character Arc Help: Overcoming an Emotional Wound
How the Character’s Misbelief Drives the Plot
How Your Character’s Failures Can Map A Route To Self-Growth
The Connection Between Emotional Wounds and Basic Needs
What’s Stronger Than Your Character’s Fear? Their Unmet Need
Build Empathy with Readers By Showing a Character’s Vulnerable Side
Do This One Thing to Write Truly Unforgettable Characters
Crafting Relationships that Matter
Vulnerability: The Key to Romantic Relationships
How to Build Powerful Character Relationships
Creating Characters Who Clash to Increase Tension