How to Craft Compelling Characters

By David Corbett

The source and exact nature of the curious phenomena we refer to as characters remains something of a mystery, but the craft of characterization is not.

Although it’s clearly a cause for celebration—or at least relief—when a character appears in the mind’s eye fully formed, the reality is that for most of us, this is a rare occurrence. Certain techniques are required to will our characters to life. We need to draw on the unconscious, memory, the imagination and the Muse until our characters quicken, assume clear form and, with hope, begin to act of their own accord.

Can this process—so inherent to the success of any novel—really be condensed into a single method? In my experience as both writer and writing instructor, the answer is, to some extent, yes. The key is first to understand what your characters require from you in order to come to life, and then to determine how you can draw on your best available resources to give them what they need. See More . . .

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