In any dramatic/prosaic literary piece, characterization is very important because characters develop the plot of the story. This article will guide you on how to create the best characters.

When building your character, you must put the storyline into consideration, so for the purpose of this write-up, I will be giving examples based on a quick story. Let’s say a mafia boss falls in love with an average girl during his search for his sister.

How do I make my characters come alive in this story?

Firstly, you should start building your character physically – like deciding on gender, height, ethnicity, eye colour, hair type, et cetera. For example, your main character (the mafia boss) may have a height of 6’2, and be a blue-eyed Italian with dark, sleek, curly hair. Being a mafia boss, he may have ripped muscles with tattoos on them.

By giving a good physical description of the character, you let the readers get a hint of what to expect. However, while giving your description, it might be best to “show” rather than “tell” your audience. You can do that by fitting the description into a narrative, rather than as a stand-alone.

E.g. He sat on a low stool, his ripped muscles giving him an air of cruelty.

Rather than: He has ripped muscles…

Another aspect of building your character is naming. You should obviously not name your macho mafia boss ‘Precious’. Something along the lines of ‘Alejandro’ will work. Naming has a lot to do in building your character. Some names might have a back story which may lead to the thickening of your plot.

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Furthermore, how you introduce your character in the story also determines how your readers perceive the character.

For example, if you are writing about a mafia boss, it would be best to introduce him while he is “mafia-bossing”. You need to create tension and set the stage for his

Here’s an instance:

He stepped out of his condo, his black hair gleaming in the sun while his tattooed back stretched out like mahogany.

‘Sir, the men from Alex in Milan are here to see you. We caught who was stealing our drug supplies,’ said Max, Alejandro’s second in command.

Additionally, while writing your character you have to remember that they must have motivation, something that drives them to do what they do, say what they say. The motivation can be anything depending on your story. It might be survival, protection or love.

In the case of our sample story, the motivation is to find his long lost sister. So anything he does is directed towards that cause.

Then, your character must have a goal. The goal will determine whether the character is successful or fails at the end of the story. And it will help the readers access the character.

If the mafia boss in our sample story ends up finding his long lost sister, then it’s a win for him.

Lastly, there can’t be a perfect character in a story (except Jessica Piercing from Suits, of course). So you can add a little flaw here and there to make it more realistic. Often, this flaw will either make or break your character.