Writing Craft

Fifty Facts

Do you know your character?

I mean, how well do you know the character you’re writing about? Do you picture her in your mind? Do you imagine what color hair she has or whether she’s short or tall? I bet you do. But what about the other stuff?

Like what?

Like the stuff that makes her unique. Interesting details will make your character stand out from other characters in your own story and also from other stories your readers have read. Make your character as memorable as you can. Give her some personality traits that make her special.    

I’ll give you an example. In the Disney story, The Little Mermaid, Ariel is a memorable main character. But why is that? Is it because she has beautiful red hair? Sure. Or is it because she’s a mermaid? Of course! But it’s also because she’s adventurous and brave.  She has characteristics readers like. She’s not afraid to explore.  She’s not afraid to pursue her dream. She feels like a real person.

So how can you make your characters seem like real people?

I’ll tell you what I do.

I write fifty facts about each one. First, I start with basic facts like her name, hair color, birthday and the name of her school. Eventually though I list things that make her unique.  For example, my character might walk on her toes all the time, or she might bite her nails when she’s nervous. She might love koala bears and hate chocolate ice cream. She might love performing in front of an audience but she might also be afraid of puppies. I list details until I’ve thought of fifty facts that describe my character. That might take me an hour. It might take me two months. When I’ve finished though, I have a pretty good description of a character that feels like a real person.   

 So why is it important to know so much about your character? Readers care about characters that seem like they could be real people. Their favorite ones might even feel like their friend or someone they’d like to hang out with. And that’s a good thing. We want our readers to keep reading about our characters—and keep turning the page!

So why don’t you give it a try? Make a list from one to fifty. After each number, write down a fact about your main character. It might take a long time. It might sound like hard word. It’s not. It’s fun! You get to decide every detail about the character you create. You can make her however you want, and if you’re lucky, soon she’ll become your reader’s very favorite character! 



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