How to make a character more real to a reader

Now that you’ve decided on a terrific name for your characters, what next?

Real or imagined. Memoir or fiction. Doesn’t matter. Same rules apply.

Turn flat into fabulous!


The characters must come alive in a manuscript and jump from the page into a reader’s heart. If not, they stop reading.

So how do we go about breathing life into these flawed creatures?

  • Each character must have a defining description. Something unique to them.
  • Make comparisons and/or contrasts with another character. Plain Jane is best friends with Fanny Fashionista.
  • Give them something to collect, obsess over, or talent.
  • Everyone has a pet peeve, even a small one. Don’t leave it out of the story.
  • What’s in her purse, pocket, car, closet? What will she not leave home without?
  • Don’t forget her diary, journal or the divorce decree. Search out and include legal and private documents.
  • How does your character talk? Texas twang, Southern drawl, up North clip, curse, spray, slur, or tick put it in the story.
  • Look at pictures and fill in the blanks. Memoir pictures help us a lot but so do artwork for fiction. Think about it.
  • Rich, poor, political, religious, serious, hateful, jealous, and what else influenced them.
  • And don’t forget those life-changing events. Marriage, birth, death, divorce, job new/lost, love, heartbreak, sickness, etc.

My list is just a taste of a great article written by Shuly X. Cawood on Brevity.

Make Your Memoir’s “Characters”—Yes, Those Real Ones—More Real to the Reader By Shuly X. Cawood

Click and read her post to get much more details on giving life to your characters, real or imagined.

Did these tips help you?

Do you have a trick to add?

Do you have difficulty breathing life into your characters?

Do you think it’s easier to flesh out memoir characters or fiction?

Want more!

Keep reading…

One-dimensional Characters in Literature

Writing Remedy: How to Breathe Life Into One-Dimensional Characters




15 thoughts on “How to make a character more real to a reader

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.