The Best Quotes About Creating Characters

The 35 Best Quotes About Creating Characters


Attention fiction writers! In this post, we share the best quotes about creating characters.

Creating characters is one of the most important things a writer does. Characters are the heartbeat of the story. They drive the plot. Without great characters stories would not be worth reading.

Read these posts if you want more help with creating characters:

  1. 5 Essential Exercises For Creating Characters
  2. A Quick-Start Guide For Creating Characters
  3. Creating Characters – 5 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make
  4. The Beginner’s Guide To Creating Memorable Characters
  5. 9 Useful Character Questionnaires For Writers
  6. Creating Larger-Than-Life Characters
  7. The 4 Main Characters As Literary Devices

I’ve collected a selection of quotations from authors and their relationships with their characters.

The 35 Best Quotes About Creating Characters

  1. You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are. ― Joss Whedon
  2. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes―characters even―caught in the fibres of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you.― Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
  3. When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. ― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon
  4. Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
  5. I understood, through rehab, things about creating characters. I understood that creating whole people means knowing where we come from, how we can make a mistake and how we overcome things to make ourselves stronger. ― Samuel L. Jackson
  6. You look like a protagonist. ― Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park
  7. Be sure not to discuss your hero’s state of mind. Make it clear from his actions. (Letter to Alexander Chekhov, May 10, 1886) ― Anton Chekhov
  8. The characters in my novels are my own unrealised possibilities. That is why I am equally fond of them all and equally horrified by them. Each one has crossed a border that I myself have circumvented. ― Milan Kundera
  9. I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. ― Stephen King
  10. The characters who go to make up my stories and novels are not portraits. Characters I invent along with the story that carries them. Attached to them are what I’ve borrowed, perhaps unconsciously, bit by bit, of persons I have seen or noticed or remembered in the flesh – a cast of countenance here, a manner of walking there, that jumps to the visualising mind when a story is under way. I don’t write by invasion into the life of a real person: my own sense of privacy is too strong for that; and I also know instinctively that living people to whom you are close – those known to you in ways too deep, too overflowing, ever to be plumbed outside love – do not yield to, could never fit into, the demands of a story. Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect it is when you can write most entirely out of yourself, that a character becomes in its own right another human being on the page. ― Eudora Welty, On Writing
  11. If you’re silent for a long time, people just arrive in your mind. ― Alice Walker
  12. In displaying the psychology of your characters, minute particulars are essential. God save us from vague generalisations! (Letter to Alexander Chekhov, May 10, 1886) ― Anton Chekhov
  13. When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell the students to make their characters want something right away – even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralysed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time. ― Kurt Vonnegut
  14. It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does. ― William Faulkner
  15. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them ― in order that the reader may see what they are made of. [From the preface.] ― Kurt Vonnegut, Bagombo Snuff Box
  16. The character that lasts is an ordinary guy with some extraordinary qualities.― Raymond Chandler
  17. I realised that if I was going to assume the responsibility of writing about my home, I needed narrative ruthlessness. I couldn’t dull the edges and fall in love with my characters and spare them. Life does not spare us. ― Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
  18. ‘I wish stories were kinder to their characters,’ Maddie said. ‘But I guess trouble is more interesting to read about.’ ― Shannon Hale, A Wonderlandiful World
  19. Fictional characters are made of words, not flesh; they do not have free will, they do not exercise volition. They are easily born, and as easily killed off. ― John Banville
  20. You create a bunch of characters and let them start bouncing into one another. That’s how a good story happens.― Dennis Lehane
  21. It is my considered view that no one can invent fictional characters without first having made a lengthy study of people, just as it is impossible for anyone to speak a language that has not been properly mastered. ― Alexandre Dumas fils, La Dame aux Camélias
  22. For Gone Girl, I knew Nick and Amy had to be very believable, so I made iPod playlists for them, and knew their Netflix queues. I wrote scenes of them in childhood from other people’s points of view: A scene of Amy in high school, written from her friend’s POV, or Nick’s kindergarten teacher writing about parent-teacher conference night. Stuff I knew I’d never use, but would help me flesh them out. I do that a lot when I’ve hit a writer’s block — it keeps me writing and sometimes helps solve a problem. Amy’s Cool Girl speech started as a writing exercise, but that one I liked so much I kept it for the book. Once I have a first draft, then the actual real work for me begins, because then I can see the novel as a whole and see what needs work. I do tons of rewriting; it’s where the book becomes a book. ― Gillian Flynn
  23. You can never know enough about your characters. ― W. Somerset Maugham
  24. When writing fiction, you learn to only put things and characters in, that are going to progress your story. There is something to be learned about that approach in real life ― Carl Henegan, Darkness Left Undone
  25. It is sometimes the minor, not the major, characters in a novel who hold the author’s affection longest. It may be that one loses affection for the major characters because they suck off so much energy as one pushes them through their lives. ―Larry McMurtry, Roads: Driving America’s Great Highways
  26. Discover everything about your characters that you can before you write your story. If you get stuck at any point, they will write your dialogue for you. ― Michael J. Kannengieser, The Daddy Rock
  27. My characters are quite as real to me as so-called real people; which is one reason why I’m not subject to what is known as loneliness. I have plenty of company. ― William S. Burroughs
  28. Characters must not brood too long. They must not waste time running up and down ladders in their own insides. ― E.M. Forster
  29. Respect your characters, even the ­minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story; it is worth thinking about what your minor characters’ stories are, even though they may intersect only slightly with your protagonist’s. ― Sarah Waters
  30. Creating characters is like throwing together ingredients for a recipe. I take characteristics I like and dislike in real people I know, or know of, and use them to embellish and define characters. ― Cassandra Clare
  31. When I’m creating characters, I definitely think of theme songs. Writing for me is very visual, so I sometimes think of it in terms of a movie with a soundtrack, and try to transfer that to words.― Marisha Pessl
  32. Think of your main characters as dinner guests. Would your friends want to spend ten hours with the characters you’ve created? Your characters can be loveable, or they can be evil, but they’d better be compelling. ― Po Bronson
  33. Plot exists so the character can discover what he is really like, forcing the character to choice and action. ― John Gardner
  34. Plot grows out of character. If you focus on who the people in your story are, something is bound to happen. ― Anne Lamott
  35. One of the most-common mistakes that beginning writers make is leaving their characters alone. Writing, you may be alone. Reading, your audience may be alone. But your character should spend very, very little time alone. Because a solitary character starts thinking or worrying or wondering. ― Chuck Palahniuk

The Last Word

Buy our Character Creation Kit to create great characters for your stories.

 by Amanda Patterson

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