Characters are the stars of your story. In this post, we offer you six fascinating fictional characters for your books.
Characters are the stars of a story, the heartbeat in a novel or screenplay. We sometimes hear that characters should be interesting, but interesting is not always an adequate description. Characters should be fascinating.
So what makes a character fascinating?
6 Fascinating Fictional Character Types
- One that pops to mind is Flawed Perfection. This character seems perfect in every way—until you scratch the surface. It is often an Achilles Heel or emotional blind spot that threatens to bring their whole world crashing down around them. Examples: Francesca Day in Fancy Pants by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or Judy Bennett in Nancy Thayer’s Bodies and Souls.
- Another fascinating character is the Innocent in a Turbulent World. It can be the child who travels without guile through a world of conflict—war, social change or family upheaval—and becomes a symbol of hope. This character sees beauty in other people or unexpected events. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a child-like character. It can be a naïve adult—naïve in the purest sense of the word. In fact, it can be a character with a disability or a mental disorder, which gives them a unique way of looking at the world. Examples: Forest Gump or Kitten Braden in Breakfast on Pluto.
- The Radical Believer is another powerful character. It can be the madman who sees and pursues a vision, someone who will
uphold a value no matter the risk of persecution. He firmly believes in something others may see as abhorrent, strange or simply unbelievable. Examples: Curtis LaForche in the film Take Shelter, or Jeff in the film Jeff Who Lives At Home.
- Almost a flip side to this character is the Chosen One. This is a character shaped by destiny. Their lives have been mapped out for them. They struggle under the hero’s burden. This is a great way to create a mythical or larger-than-life character. Examples: Harry Potter in all his adventures, Sonia in The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina or Michael in Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.
- To create a character that an audience will identify with is the Everyman. This is the little grey man we often overlook. It can be the single parent or the high-school wallflower. What’s underneath the surface of this character is often a struggle worthy of an epic. Examples: Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or Ted in How I Met Your Mother.
- Alternatively you might enjoy writing about is the opposite of ordinary. The Dream Woman is a highly romanticised character – the beautiful girl with the true heart who finds love and fulfilment in a world of luxury or bucolic contentment. The handsome hero who rushes into a burning building to rescue his buddy. In short, this character exists in a highly idealised state. It works well for escapist fiction or romance as it provides a wish fulfilment for the audience. Examples: Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz, Noah in The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks.
All these characters allow you to show the different facets of fascinating personalities.
[Use our Character Creation Kit to create great characters for your stories.]
5 Exercises For Creating Characters
To create your own fascinating character, you may wish to free write on one of these topics:
- Write about your own flaws, habits, mistakes—explore the emotions of these.
- Write about the things that delighted you as a child—swimming, play-acting, collecting toy cars or a video game.
- Write about your own career goals and ambitions and the price you’ve paid for going after your dream.
- Write about your views on religion, politics, and sex – all the thorny issues we avoid in real life.
- Write about your perfect day – what would it be like? Use as many of the senses as possible.
Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.