Creating Believable Characters With Personality
Developing good characters with unique personalities in characters’ actions, dialogue, and dialogue tags is important for writing a successful story.
Developing Characters and Personality Traits
Developing a character’s personality involves defining a character with both narration and dialogue. As a person’s personality shows in his actions and his words, so would a character’s. Consider three areas in which a character’s personality shows: during a story’s action, in dialogue, and in dialogue tags.
When describing the action in the story, think of it as describing something that actually happened, as though the character were a real person. That person would have a reaction to what is happening, which then dictates his or her mood and next actions. Your character’s personality would determine the way he reacts to situations. Is your character hot-tempered? Lazy? Ambitious? Optimistic? Keep these personality traits in mind when writing about your character’s actions. A lazy person, for example, may have a reaction in his mind, yet make few actions himself, make a half-interested action, or take his time getting around to any action.
Dialogue and dialogue tags are equally important in developing your character’s personality. While dialogue emits the personality that a character chooses to show (by what he chooses to say), dialogue tags indicate a character’s mood and attitude. Like reactions, mood and attitude are determined by his personality. Even a personality who hides his feelings in what he says would be revealed within dialogue tags, by the body language included in them.
A Reader’s Perspective
Readers will immediately have an impression of your character upon first reading about him, from his name, and then by his actions and dialogue. The goal would be to give the reader the impression you want them to have. Maybe your character is lonely and cynical. His actions and his mood would reflect that. In dialogue, such a character might be inclined to speak more sarcastically than other characters. He may also speak negatively. If your character is timid, his actions may reflect that of a wall flower when it comes to social situations. In dialogue, this character may not speak much, but use nervous body language – blushing, lip biting, hand twisting, etc.
Consider also your characters and how they interact with one another, as interaction is an indication of personality. Try to step into the reader’s shoes and see what impression you get from reading what you have on your story so far. A great way to understand a reader’s perception of the story is to have someone else read the first draft. If that someone has close to the impression you wanted them to have, the story is on the right track.
Remember that personalities make characters life-like and believable for readers. A character’s personality can be conveyed to readers through the character’s actions, dialogue, and dialogue tags.