They may be men, they may be women, they may be young, they may be old, they may be sloppy, they may be bold, but they are all yours. Yes, the characters you create in your books are yours. I thought of an idea and have it up in my FB Page “Prem Rao, Story Teller.” I put up a poll, “Who is your favourite character in ‘Lucky For Some, 13?'”

My new thriller, “Lucky For Some, 13” has just been released and too many haven’t read it yet but it would be fascinating for me to see the results of the poll. Will they opt for the beautiful but deadly Alice Hatchman, for the dedicated warrior Mohini Nair, for that geeky genius, “Evil the Devil” Jacob or for the genial “Mr. Know It All” General Dutta?

I love creating characters. I hold that building a character is a crucial part of writing a novel. They are the people who your readers should relate to. They are the guys your readers will love or hate.

Here are my Top 5 tips for Creating Characters:

  • They must be real: Sure I like heroes but they must be people I can relate to as a reader. I hate novels where the hero is a combination of all that is the best in the world. Such guys don’t exist in real life, right? Likewise, the guy in the negative role is not all bad. He/she may have a few good traits. Just as the hero may have a few bad ones.
  • They must look the part: Give the reader a sense of what they look like. You don’t have to describe them in full detail from head to toe but a few key features and facts are not out-of-place. Is she 34 or 43? I am speaking of her age.  When you say he is ” short”? What’s “short”?
  • They must speak as they would: If he is a baddie who is not educated he’s more likely to be habituated to cuss words than a University Professor. Let him speak as you think he should. Don’t make him speak as you would. You Mr. Author are not that character.
  • Their dialogue and behaviour must be authentic: Forgive the cliché, but they should act the part. While the previous point emphasized the words they used, this one speaks of a combination of what they say and what they do to become what you imagine them to be. Keep in mind though that the reader has her own imagination. It’s not a movie where everyone sees him/her on the same screen.
  • They must “fit” the role: By this I mean your characters are very integral to your story. they must seamlessly blend in with the story making the reader feel he knows them, or people like them. In my view, creating characters and fleshing them out is a big challenge for any writer but at the end it is very satisfying.

The other day someone called me and startled by saying, ” Hello. Col. Belliappa?” We had a good laugh as he was referring to the main character of my debut novel, “It Can’t Be You.” Two years have passed since that was written but he remembers that character. If he remembers him for much longer, I believe I would have done a good job as a writer.

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