Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (2023)

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (1)

Resource ID: E1WrM2L2

Grade Range: 9


Introduction Imagine 3-D Characters Show and Tell Build Your Main Character Read about a Main Character Draft Your Story Resources

To begin this lesson, watch the short video below.

(Video) Creating Believable Backstories for Characters—Brandon Sanderson


This Side Up, Liron Topaz, youtube.com

Now jot down all the things that you learned about the character in the video.

In “record” time (pun intended) and without dialogue, the animator reveals much about his character, including his approximate age, his devotion to the King (a.k.a., Elvis Presley), his impatience, and ultimately his ignorance of modern technology. We can all relate to the excitement of bringing home a new possession, the frustration of waiting for something you really want, and the urge to try anything to expedite a slow process. Of course, we, the superior tech users, sensed all along that this vinyl guy wouldn’t know what end was up.

Your focus in this lesson, however, will be on creating a short story character and narrator who can talk. You will learn how to reveal aspects of character through both direct and indirect characterization. With direct characterization, the author “tells” us about the characters and perhaps even himself or herself. With indirect characterization, the author uses clues such as appearance and action (similar to the video) and speech (unlike the video).

You will also learn the difference between flat and round characters, and you will create a profile for your own protagonist. To summarize, you will create the foundation for a complex and multidimensional character. Then, using the “Freytag’s Pyramid” graphic organizer you filled out in the lesson “Write an Engaging Story with Well-Developed Conflict and Resolution,” you will be able to begin drafting your short story.

Note: If you haven’t completed the lesson just mentioned, you may want to do so before starting this lesson.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (2)

Flat Stanley (shown in the picture on the right) might be a great portable travel companion, but he’s no model for a dynamic, round character. This nomadic, two-dimensional traveler is a flat character. If you travel with this static fellow to Cape Town, Paris, Mexico City, or Singapore, he returns home grinning, paper-thin, and unchanged. Some flat characters, however, like Mrs. Rossiter, the shushing housekeeper in Frank Sullivan’s “The Night the Old Nostalgia Burned Down: My Own New York Childhood,” are necessary when telling a story. The account you will read is a memoir.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (3)

Sometimes, when we kids came home from school, Mrs. Rossiter, the housekeeper, would meet us in the hall and place a warning finger on her lips. We knew what that meant. We must be on our best behavior. The wealthy Mrs. Murgatroyd was calling on Mother. We would be ushered into the Presence, Mother would tell us to stop using our sleeves as a handkerchief, and Mrs. Murgatroyd would laugh and say, “Oh Annie, let the poor children alone. Sure, you’re only young once.” Then she would lift up her skirt to the knee, fish out a huge wallet from under her stocking, and give us each $2,000,000,000.

Mrs. Murgatroyd is less stereotypical and flat than Mrs. Rossiter. As a result, Mrs. Murgatroyd is potentially more interesting. Based on Sullivan’s account, we know Mrs. Murgatroyd is wealthy, powerful, fond of children, and generous beyond measure. Suppose Sullivan wanted to write a fictional short story with this fascinating dowager as the protagonist. If he were going to develop Mrs. Murgatroyd into a character with dimension and depth, what would he need to know?

Perhaps he would ask the following questions:

  • Is there a Mr. Murgatroyd?
  • Where did she get her fortune?
  • What does she look like?
  • What is her relationship to the Sullivans?
  • What prompted her visit?

An author gets to know a character by asking many kinds of questions. Beyond what you can infer from the account in “My Own New York Childhood,” what else might you want to know?

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (4)Think of two questions and write them using your notes. When you’re finished, check your understanding to see some possible responses.

As you continue to ask and answer questions, the character of Mrs. Murgatroyd becomes more layered and better rounded. Now, what if she goes bankrupt after giving away so much money? What if our philanthropist is forced to give up her generous ways? What if her poverty forces her to wear old clothes and stockings with holes? In this scenario, Mrs. Murgatroyd would be forced to change. This change would be sad for the character on the page but would interest readers.

Images used in this section:

Source: Flat Stanley, bigoteetoe, Flickr

Source: Lower Manhattan at Night from the Manhattan Bridge, NYC II, andrew c mace, Flickr

In modern short stories, characterization is just as important as plot—or even more important depending on the kind of story you are writing. Yet a short story author doesn’t always have the space to tell the readers everything about the characters through direct characterization. Most writers of short stories use indirect characterization, demonstrating their characters’ qualities through speech, thoughts, and actions.

Through indirect characterization, the author shows us what the character is like; in direct characterization, the author tells or describes the character’s traits. You may already know the difference between these “show and tell” approaches with characters, but take a look at a classic example of the direct characterization of a monarch in “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank Stockton.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (5)

In the very olden time, there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing; and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done.

Notice the adjectives Stockton uses to describe the king and his ideas, beginning with “semi-barbaric.” To ensure that you understand this important adjective, the author defines it in a context clue—“the half of him which was barbaric.”

The next story provides an example of indirect characterization. It is an excerpt from James Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. We begin reading just as the Darlings are beginning a family. Look at the conversation that Mr. and Mrs. Darling have about the expense of caring for a child to see how Barrie characterizes Mr. Darling.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (6)

Wendy came first, then John, then Michael.

For a week or two after Wendy came it was doubtful whether they would be able to keep her, as she was another mouth to feed. Mr. Darling was frightfully proud of her, but he was very honourable, and he sat on the edge of Mrs. Darling’s bed, holding her hand and calculating expenses, while she looked at him imploringly. She wanted to risk it, come what might, but that was not his way; his way was with a pencil and a piece of paper, and if she confused him with suggestions he had to begin at the beginning again.

“Now don’t interrupt,” he would beg of her.

“I have one pound seventeen here, and two and six at the office; I can cut off my coffee at the office, say ten shillings, making two nine and six, with your eighteen and three makes three nine seven, with five naught naught in my cheque-book makes eight nine seven—who is that moving?—eight nine seven, dot and carry seven—don’t speak, my own—and the pound you lent to that man who came to the door—quiet, child—dot and carry child—there, you’ve done it!—did I say nine nine seven? Yes, I said nine nine seven; the question is, can we try it for a year on nine nine seven?”

“Of course we can, George,” she cried. But she was prejudiced in Wendy’s favour, and he was really the grander character of the two.

“Remember mumps,” he warned her almost threateningly, and off he went again. “Mumps one pound, that is what I have put down, but I daresay it will be more like thirty shillings—don’t speak—measles one five German measles half a guinea, makes two fifteen six—don’t waggle your finger—whooping-cough, say fifteen shillings”—and so on it went, and it added up differently each time; but at last Wendy just got through, with mumps reduced to twelve six, and the two kinds of measles treated as one.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (7)

As you read this excerpt, what do you learn about Mr. Darling’s character? How do you come to know these things about him? If you answered that he’s a man totally absorbed in accounting for the last cent, you would be correct. Barrie shows us this by first describing his actions, holding his wife’s hand while doing the absurd calculations that will determine whether they can keep the baby. Next, Barrie has Mr. Darling speak absurdly while he adds up figures and tries to fit Wendy into the budget. Barrie has him continue to add the cost of all the childhood illnesses that she might encounter. At the last moment, she comes in under the bottom line.

As Barrie characterizes Mr. Darling, readers get a feel for how this character speaks, thinks, and looks. They also see his actions and get a taste of how other characters react to him. Including as many of these methods as possible is an important step in creating a dynamic, round character who is ultimately believable.

The STEAL mnemonic helps you remember ways you can show your imaginative characters to your readers:

SpeechWhat does the character say? How does the character speak?
ThoughtsWhat is revealed through the character’s private thoughts and feelings?
Effect on othersWhat is revealed through the character’s effect on other people?
How do other characters feel or behave in reaction to the character?
ActionsWhat does the character do? How does the character behave?
LooksWhat does the character look like? How does the character dress?

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (8) Using the STEAL chart above and Darling as your model, answer the questions posed. Write your responses using your notes. When you’re finished, check your understanding to see some possible responses.

Images used in this section:

Source: (Harry Clarke) HEROD & HERODIAS, Fergal of Claddagh, Flickr

Source: Peter Pan 1924 movie, Wikimedia Commons

Source: 155/365 - peter pan, jypsyjen, Flickr

(Video) Creating Captivating Characters

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (9)

Stephen King writes that the job of building characters in fiction “boils down to two things: 1) paying attention to how the real people around you behave and 2) telling the truth about what you see. You may notice that your next-door neighbor picks his nose when he thinks no one is looking. This is a great detail, but noting it does you no good as a writer unless you are willing to dump it into a story at some time.”

“Fiction,” according to author Flannery O’ Conner, “is an art that calls for the strictest attention to the real,” perhaps including some disgusting details, as in King’s example. If you want to have readers—and all writers want readers—you have to create real and nuanced characters. This means you must add details that readers will recognize in themselves or others.

(Video) Creating Believable Characters

In Peter and Wendy, Barrie shares details about the “real” world of Mr. Darling that reinforce our assessment of his character. We have a pretty good idea about Mr. Darling’s character based on speech, actions, and effect on others. These details help us believe that someone like Mr. Darling could really exist (odd though he might be). The reason is that believable characters act in ways that are grounded in reality, which adds to the verisimilitude of your story.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (10)Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (11)

(Note:Before you do the next exercise,
you may want to review the plot exercise you did using Freytag’s Pyramid in the graphic organizer for the lesson “Short Story with Well Developed Conflict and Resolution.” If you have not yet read this earlier lesson, you may want to review it and do the exercises after completing this lesson.)

Now you will fill in a graphic organizer labeled “Cast and Type of Characters.” You need to give your protagonist an authentic-sounding name. If you select something like “Dudley Do Right” or “Snidely Whiplash,” no one will take you seriously. K. M. Weiland, who writes a blog called “Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors,” offers advice about naming characters. Click on the link and scroll to page 20 of the e-book to read the advice. Afterward, download the graphic organizer below.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (12)

You can save, download, and print the graphic organizer. When you are finished with it, return to this section. Graphic Organizer Instructions

Names are important. Mention a name and instant preconceptions spring to mind. Although our names may not play a role in shaping our personalities, they certainly can reflect our background, ethnicity, even our religion. They may even define our relationships. So it should come as no surprise that naming a character is an important moment in defining the personality of the character and the role he or she will play in a story.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (13)

“You can never know enough about your characters,” claimed novelist W. Somerset Maugham. In this section of the lesson, you will spend some time getting to know your protagonist so you don’t end up with a stereotype, like a Disney princess or a Marvel comic superhero. Also, if you profile your character carefully, you’re less likely to develop inconsistencies that might ruin the verisimilitude of your story. For instance, if your plot requires a physically taxing feat, you may not want to add potato chips and donuts to your protagonist’s daily diet. Similarly, if your protagonist needs the observational skills of a detective, you may not want to make him absentminded.

You can print out the graphic organizer and use it as a guide as you begin writing your story and developing your characters. Use your knowledge of the entire character to decide what the character would do in certain situations, and how other characters might react.

Images used in this section:

Source: stephen (ba) king powder, Rakka, Flickr

Source: Dudley Do-Right, Alex Anderson, Wikipedia

Source: Villainc, J.J. Wikimedia

Source: Characters Week 4, Murtada al Mousawy, Flickr

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (14)

Every short story requires a central character or protagonist who is motivated to take action or react to an outside force to achieve some purpose. In O. Henry’s story “A Retrieved Reformation,” the central character is Jimmy Valentine. In the first part of the story, we know him as Valentine, 9762, a parolee with superb safecracking skills. In the section you are about to read, Jimmy adopts an alias—not a surprising move for an ex-convict with no intention of going straight.

O. Henry uses direct characterization to tell us some things about Valentine. For instance, he writes that Jimmy “had won the respect of the community,” and “his shoe-store was flourishing.” Most of what we know about Jimmy’s character, however, is revealed through his thoughts, actions, and others’ reactions to him.

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (15)

Click the link to read the story “A Retrieved Reformation.” See if you can identify the places where Jimmy's character is revealed.

O. Henry employs both direct and indirect characterization to divulge information about his dynamic protagonist, Jimmy Valentine. Remembering the acronym STEAL—an apt mnemonic for a story about a safecracker—helps us see all the indirect ways this skillful author brings Jimmy Valentine to light.

For the next exercise, the sentences in the story have been numbered to enable you to reread quickly. Decide which STEAL method (Speech, Thoughts, Effect on others, Actions, or Looks) method reveals the described character trait(s) or action(s). Remember: minor characters in the story, such as the antagonist Ben Price, can also divulge information.

As you begin thinking about your own short story, you might want to think about how you can use indirect and direct characterization. If O. Henry used direct characterization to describe everything we know about Jimmy, the story would be longer and much less interesting. Think about how you will use indirect characterization in the story you are getting ready to write.

Images used in section:

Source: WDJones1stMugAt15, FBI, Wikimedia

Writing an Engaging Short Story with Interesting and Believable Characters (16)

Now that you’ve outlined an intriguing plot in the previous lesson and fleshed out your protagonist in this one, all you need to do is start writing a draft of your short story. Don’t feel burdened to get everything perfect in your first draft. Use your plot outline from the previous lesson and your character profile to write steadily to the end. On your first tryyou won’t be able to incorporate everything you learned, but the following reminders of effective characterization may help you stay on track:

  • Make sure your characters, no matter what their personalities are like, come across like real people.
  • When you can, show your readers something about your character; when you can’t, tell them something.
  • Give your readers a reason to care about what happens to your character.
  • Describe your minor characters with one or two modifiers, and save your most impressive descriptive powers for your protagonist.

The art of the short story is to share truth about the human condition or human nature. It is also to entertain and provide pleasure for a reader. A well-written short story fulfills these dual obligations. Keep this in mind as you begin work on the draft of your short story.

Images used in this section:

Source: day 41 . . . homework, katyhutch, Flickr

(Video) Create Believable Characters: A Novelist and a Former Actress Show You How

Bailey, Tom. A Short Story Writer’s Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2001.

Barrie, James. Peter and Wendy. Project Gutenberg. 2008.

Defining Characterization.” Readwritethink.org. Accessed Oct 4, 2012.

Gioia, Dana, and R.S. Gywnn, eds. The Art of the Short Story. New York: Pearson Longman, 2006.

Henry, O. “A Retrieved Reformation.” In Roads of Destiny. Project Gutenberg.

Hood, Dave. “Character and Characterization in Short Fiction.” Find Your Creative Muse (blog). April 20, 2011.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Pocket Books, 2000.

Stockton, Frank. ”The Lady or the Tiger?” In A Chosen Few. Project Gutenberg. 2008.

Sullivan, Frank. “The Night The Old Nostalgia Burned Down.” New Yorker, May 25, 1946.

Thomson, Amy Restivo. “Elemental Fiction.” Trinity University. August 1, 2011.

Weiland, K.M. Crafting Unforgettable Characters. KMWeiland.com. E-book.


How do you write an engaging short story? ›

The Top 10 Tips For Writing Great Short Stories
  1. Understand that a short story is not the same as a novel. ...
  2. Start as close to the end as possible. ...
  3. Keep up the pace. ...
  4. Keep the number of characters small. ...
  5. Give the reader someone to root for. ...
  6. Create conflict! ...
  7. Suggest a backstory but don't elaborate. ...
  8. Appeal to the five senses.

What are the 5 questions you should answer when writing a story? ›

So, without further ado here are 5 essential questions to plot out your story.
  • What is your character's situation at the start of the story? ...
  • What is the inciting incident? ...
  • What obstacles does your character encounter? ...
  • What happens to make the situation worse? ...
  • What is the final resolution?
23 Jun 2020

What makes a character interesting in a story? ›

Believable characters are unique and three-dimensional. Each has real attributes, like appearance, personality, and a backstory, that make them relatable. A character's motivations inform their actions and decisions, creating the narrative arc in the story.

How can I make my story more engaging? ›

5 Powerful Writing Techniques That Bring Stories to Life
  1. Invoke multiple senses.
  2. Create intriguing, complex characters.
  3. Evoke strong emotions.
  4. Use rich character voice.
  5. Pull the reader into the action.
31 Aug 2021

Which character is most believable? ›

Most believable characters
RankAverage ratingName
193.1Iroh (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
292.9Tony Johnson (After Life)
392.3Reginald 'Bubbles' Cousins (The Wire)
492.0Lloyd (Yellowstone)
21 more rows
15 Jul 2022

What is an example of a character in a story? ›

Some of the most notable characters in the literature include the following: Huckleberry Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Sherlock Holmes The Sherlock Holmes series.

What is a good example of a short story? ›

"The Tale of Peter Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter tells the story of a mischievous little rabbit who doesn't listen to his mother and goes through a heart-pounding chase with Mr. McGregor.

What are the six questions you should answer when writing to explain? ›

The six questions are:
  • Who is the story about?
  • What is the story about?
  • Where is the story set?
  • When is the story set?
  • Why does this story matter?
  • How does the story unfold?
4 Sept 2015

How can I get answers to story questions? ›

To view the questions your followers have submitted, open your story and swipe up. Then you can scroll through the responses by swiping right and left.

What makes an interesting and engaging character? ›

Distinction, empathy, and impetus are the psychological cornerstones in crafting a compelling character with emotional resonance. So as you begin to develop your character, always remember: Distinction draws the audience in. Empathy makes the audience relate.

Why are interesting characters important? ›

Characters are the most critical element for authors to get right in a novel. If the characters are interesting enough, readers will go on the most absurd journey or visit terrifying worlds with them.

How do you write an introduction for an engage essay? ›

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order: An opening hook to catch the reader's attention. Relevant background information that the reader needs to know. A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

What are 10 good sentences? ›

10 Good Sentences That Can Change Your Child's Life
  • “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” -Robert Frost.
  • “Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough to let go.” – Anonymous.
  • “A happy family is but an earlier heaven” – George Bernard Shaw.
10 Feb 2016

What makes a story interesting engaging or impactful? ›

The best story is a well-told tale about something the reader feels is relevant or significant. The best stories are more complete and more comprehensive. They contain more verified information from more sources with more viewpoints and expertise. They exhibit more enterprise, more reportorial effort.

What does believable character mean? ›

Based on their research, they defined believability as “the size and nature of the cognitive gap between the character players experience and the character they expect. When the player's expectations exactly match their experience, a character is fully believable.

What does it mean if a character is believable? ›

A believable character is brought to life with an inner world of their own, much like you have. All of a character's thoughts, behaviors, patterns, and reactions can be summed up as “interiority.” Interiority builds empathy between characters and readers. The more specific you can get, the better.

What makes someone believable? ›

These are the six missing pieces on how to make the truth more believable; tell the truth, understatement, specificity, evidence, conciseness, and pacing existence. They may not always make everyone trust you, but by using these effectively they will help you to be more credible and believable.

What is an example sentence for character? ›

Mr Bartman was a man of good character. She showed real character in her attempts to win over the crowd. I didn't know Ron had that much strength of character. An ugly shopping centre stands across from one of the few buildings with character.

What is a good example of character? ›

Examples of good character

Someone with good character believes they should make good choices and shows over time that they almost always make choices that are honest, respectful, fair, caring, and responsible. Making a mistake doesn't mean you don't have good character. Everyone makes mistakes and learns from them.

Can you give me an example of a character? ›

Character is defined as a trait, quality or high moral code. An example of character is someone who is known for being funny. An example of character is a person who is trustworthy.

What makes a story believable or unbelievable? ›

The way to make your unbelievable stories feel real, is by having your characters react in a real way. As long as your characters behave in a way that feels realistic, the most unbelievable story will still work. Where this often goes wrong, is when a character is suddenly an expert in something for no reason.

How do you know if you have a good success story? ›

  1. Capturing progress over time. • Educating decision makers about the impact of your program. • Demonstrating responsible use of resources to stakeholders. ...
  2. Keep paragraphs short—no more than three to four sentences. • Keep story to no more than two pages. ...
  3. Include direct quotes if they strengthen the story. •

What is the main purpose of short story? ›

The main purpose of a short story is to enable the reader to picture in their mind the images which the writer 'paints'. Consequently, more demands are made on the reader. Since words are strictly limited, characters must be created very quickly. It is for this reason that writers use a 'plunge' technique.

What is a short story simple explanation? ›

A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a single effect or mood.

What is the best point of view for a short story? ›

The third-person point of view is the most commonly used perspective because of all the options it offers. This perspective affords the author more flexibility than the other two perspectives. If you write in this mode, you are the "onlooker" watching the action as it unfolds.

How do you answer a 7 mark question? ›

When answering a 7 mark question it is important to remember to give three well explained points. So find a point in the source, then develop it making sure you pull information from the source not just from your knowledge of the topic.

How do you answer a question in an essay examples? ›

Answer the question according to general rules of academic writing. Use indentations; begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; support the topic sentence(s) with reasons and/or examples; use transition words to show logical organization; write a conclusion. Use correct punctuation throughout.

What are the three questions in the story answer? ›

These three things were: What is the right time to begin something? Which people should he listen to? What is the most important thing for him to do? The king, therefore, sent messengers throughout his kingdom, promising a large sum of money to anyone who would answer these three questions.

What are the possible questions to ask about the short story? ›

These are the essential questions you'll want to ask in order to learn how to write a short story well.
  • Who is Your Protagonist and Where Does He/She Live? ...
  • What Does Your Protagonist Want? ...
  • What Opposition Does the Protagonist Face? ...
  • What Does Your Protagonist Need? ...
  • How Will the Protagonist Overcome the Opposition?

What are 3 things you can do to develop good character? ›

Five Ways to Build Your Character
  1. Be Humble. Humility is the beginning of wisdom. ...
  2. Live out your principles and values. ...
  3. Be intentional. ...
  4. Practice self discipline. ...
  5. Be accountable.

What makes a good character good? ›

In general, people who are considered to have good character often have traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty, fortitude, and other important virtues that promote good behavior. These character traits define who they are as people—and highly influence the choices they make in their lives.

How do you write a powerful character? ›

How to Write Strong Characters
  1. Give your characters something to care about. This is the easiest one, but I often see stories where characters do things for no apparent reason. ...
  2. Create a threat. This doubles up as a way to create a plot when you don't have one. ...
  3. Give them a unique skill. ...
  4. Make them flawed. ...
  5. Make them grow.
24 Jan 2020

How do you make your characters feel real? ›

  1. 5 Ways to Make Your Characters More Realistic. Make your characters feel and act like real people. ...
  2. Give them flaws. There isn't a single perfect person in all of existence. ...
  3. Don't make things black and white for them. ...
  4. Give them unique appearances. ...
  5. Let them talk like actual people. ...
  6. Give them traits from real people.
24 Feb 2020

What are the most important things to know about a character? ›

You have to know how they think, how they feel, what motivates them, what terrifies them. You have to know their history, their friends, their influences. You have to know how they behave, how they want to behave, how they describe themselves. You have to know them intimately.

What is the main purpose of a character? ›

The main function of a character in a story is to extend or prolong the plot, make it readable and interesting. Many stories use multiple characters, and every story has a main character that affects the plot a great deal.

Why is the character the most important element of a story? ›

Your set of characters is the most important element in your story. While plot is pivotal, setting is fundamental, point of view is necessary, and theme is required, no story element ranks above character. Characters serve as the driving force in your story. Your characters create and push your plot forward.

How do you write believable? ›

Below I've included some tips on how to write believable characters that your readers won't forget.
  1. Get Specific with Backstory.
  2. Consider Social Context.
  3. Dialogue Matters.
  4. The Power of Observation.
2 Apr 2020

How do you make something believable? ›

Let's develop each of these.
  1. The Truth. The fastest and most sure way to be believed is to be trustworthy. ...
  2. Understatement. Understatement makes more sense when it's compared to it's opposite. ...
  3. Specificity. The third practice that makes the truth more believable is specificity. ...
  4. Evidence. ...
  5. Conciseness. ...
  6. Pacing Existence.
20 Sept 2011

What makes an effective character? ›

What is a good character? They are characters that are interesting, three-dimensional, realistic, believable and relatable. Someone who everyone likes isn't particularly believable. Or, in fact, likeable.

What makes your character and story stand out? ›

Firstly, the character needs to be bold, and have a recognisable silhouette. They'll be seen at all different angles and scales, so they need to be readable no matter what situation they are in. And that extends to when the character starts being used on promotional stickers, billboards and lunch boxes.

What makes a character feel real? ›

Sometimes it's the little things about a character's personality traits or body language that makes them feel more grounded in real life. In fiction writing, a good combination of quirks can help create more memorable characters by including small things that make them charming, endearing, weird, or unique.

How do you write a true story for beginners? ›

10 Tips to Writing True-Life Stories
  1. Dig Deep. Find a story worth telling. ...
  2. Remove Yourself. One of the hardest parts of writing a story about yourself is taking an objective look at your life. ...
  3. Start Small. ...
  4. Work in the Details. ...
  5. Research, Research, Research. ...
  6. Speculate Freely. ...
  7. Structure the Plot. ...
  8. Ask for Permission.
15 Feb 2021

How do you start a true story example? ›

Try one or more of these strategies.
  1. Strategy 1: Begin with action or dialogue. ...
  2. Strategy 2: Ask a question. ...
  3. Strategy 3: Describe the setting. ...
  4. Strategy 4: Begin with background information. ...
  5. Strategy 5: Have the main character introduce himself or herself.

What type of word is believable? ›

Adjective. Capable of being believed; credible.

How do you write a believable male character? ›

Even if you're writing about the good guy, never mistake his selfless actions for selfless intentions. You're writing about a man, not an angel. Your male character should at least notice what's in it for him. Your male character should at least notice what's in it for him.

How do you say something is believable? ›

Ways of emphasizing that something is true or exact - thesaurus
  1. actually. adverb. used for emphasizing what is really true or what really happened.
  2. certainly. adverb. ...
  3. clearly. adverb. ...
  4. simply. adverb. ...
  5. literally. adverb. ...
  6. evidently. adverb. ...
  7. honestly. adverb. ...
  8. surely. adverb.

What strategies do you use to make your writing clear and interesting? ›

5 Tips to Making Your Writing More Exciting
  1. Choose active voice and vivid verbs. Passive voice, or leaving the subject out of the sentence, makes it look like you are trying to avoid responsibility. ...
  2. Choose precise words. ...
  3. Choose concise phrasing. ...
  4. Choose simple words. ...
  5. Choose appropriate words.

What makes an author believable? ›

Credible sources are written by authors respected in their fields of study. Responsible, credible authors will cite their sources so that you can check the accuracy of and support for what they've written. (This is also a good way to find more sources for your own research.)


1. Writing Believable Characters
(Nicole Creates)
2. Creating Engaging Characters - Writing Tip & Lesson Plan Supplement
(Ken Baker)
3. 5 Tips for Writing Believable Characters
(E. C. Hibbs - Fantasy Author)
4. How to Write Believable, Effective, and Important Character Deaths in Your Story
(Sammi Shane)
5. Writing Strong Characters - The Important Distinction Between Want and Need
(Think Story)
6. If You Can't Answer These 6 Questions You Don't Have A Story - Glenn Gers
(Film Courage)
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