I consider myself good at characters. I rarely struggle to know what they’ll do or say in any given situation. I know their history, their preferences and their feelings. But when asked the question, how do you make a good character? Well… it’s so many things at once that I don’t even know.
What makes a human human? Same kinda question.
But something I constantly come back to when it comes to good characters is their connections, their relationships with the other characters.
Character’s don’t have just one way they behave all the time. They’re going to behave differently when interacting with their family to with their teachers or with their significant other.
And that’s part of what makes characters so fun! You can combine them in so many different ways. It’s a mix and match! I love when a usually stern character softens up to talk to a child. When the usually quiet character carries a conversation with someone shyer than them.
My personal favourite is when a character that is usually super polite and well-versed just loses it when confronted by a character they see as pure evil, like screaming, swearing, just completely loses it.
People aren’t static. Neither should your characters be. As long as there reactions have reason, changing how they act isn’t a sign they’re out of character, it’s a sign they are deeper than just some cookie molde personality.
This also references back to my post about main characters. Using my own book as an example, Itazu is the main character because she is in some way to connected practically every important character in the book.
She doesn’t necessarily know them, but she has some form of a connection. A good example, let’s compare her to Kai, probably the second most important character in the series. In book two we see the king, an important character, Itazu can be connected via two lines, she is Henry’s daughter, Henry is the king’s right hand man. In this second book, Philip talks to her and knows who she is from hearing Henry talk. Kai on the other hand would be a three line connection, he’s Itazu’s friend, Itazu’s Henry’s daughter and Henry works for the king. Not quite so close now are we?
And when Kai talks to the king on two or three occasions, that distance comes across. That isn’t a bad thing, but it’s that and many more small connections that make Itazu a better protagonist than Kai.
Connections are vital in character creation. Probably more vital than a lot of randoms facts people tend to throw around in questionnaires and character sheets.