You are here:

Writing Books/character creation


i am writing a book and need expert information on the creation of a character in the strongest wway possible,

Hello Sam:

There are two elements to creating strong, memorable characters in fiction:

 1. Emotion
 2. Emotion.

If you read "how to" writing books, you will sooner or later come across the word "motivation." The authors of those books advocate tracing every little word, act and deed of a character back to some incident in childhood, or whatever. I don't recommend that except for the big values: Liberty, Love, Morals, Faith, etc. For the smaller actions that often bring half the world down, there is no need. But what you do need to make that act logical and believable is emotion.

Emotion is how people connect one to the other. If you are a cold unemotional person you will likely have few connections. Characters must have many connections. Don't make your characters weak, wishy-washy wimps! Give them strong passions and emotions to make the story dramatic.

The bestowing of emotions on a character is not only the most critical element of fiction, in true fact if you do emotions really well, it doesn't matter one whit what the story is "about." But this is a tough area to tackle, nearly as tough, if not tougher, than dialogue. There is a right way to do it and a wrong way. The right way makes memorable characters, the wrong doesn't.

There is not enough space here to give you all you need to know about character emotions, but here is an example that should demonstrate the difference to you:

  Example 1:

  "Beth was so excited she could hardly bear it. She
  was really going to a concert to see Michael Jackson!"

  Example 2: Beth felt butterflies in her stomach as
  she bought her tickets.

  Example 3: Wow! Michael Jackson! Beth was actually
  going to see him, in concert! This was too exciting,
  by far the most exciting thing that had ever happened
  to her.

Which example carries the most emotion? The most dramatic one, of course. Make sure your readers get it by stopping just short of driving it into their heads with a hammer.

Here are some aids for you: get hold of CREATING CHARACTER EMOTIONS, by Ann Hood. You can get it cheap at Another excellent book that has very helpful advice regarding characters is James N. Frey's THE KEY, HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL USING THE POWER OF MYTH, and HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD NOVEL II.

If you are a writer, you must be a reader as well. Think about the characters you remember from your reading: what do you remember most vividly about them? Analyze several and notice the emotional content and how it's described.

Go to your search engine and type in "Create memorable characters fiction." You should get plenty of helpful hits.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high score over 420+ questions.

And good luck with your writing!  

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

©2017 All rights reserved.