Tag: believable characters

How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps

How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps

Characters are the engine of every story.

Quite often, indeed, they live longer than the story itself. How many of you happened to remember perfectly the characters of a novel read many years ago and not remember the plot at all?

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

For this reason, it is very important to understand how to master character creation: here’s how to do it in 7 easy steps.

Step 1: download bibisco, your character creation program

Since the creation of the characters is essential, it’s necessary to have the right program that will help you in this task.

bibisco is a novel writing software focused on character creation.

Our vision is that characters are the driving force of any novel. So bibisco is packed with tools designed specifically for character creation.

bibisco is a desktop application for Linux, Mac, Windows. It’s available in 14 languages: Czech, Dutch, French, German, English, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (for both Brazil and Portugal), Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Turkish.

You can download bibisco from the official website: https://bibisco.com.

Step 2: create your project

Once bibisco is installed, it’s time to create your project.

Choose the title (you can always change it later), register yourself as the author, select the language and you are ready to go!

create a project in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
create a project in bibisco

Step 3: create your first character

It’s time to create your first character!

bibisco divides the characters into two groups: the main characters and the secondary characters.

characters' section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
characters’ section in bibisco

Each main character has a conflict, the driving force of the story. Secondary characters instead don’t have a conflict, but they are useful for the development of the story.

In this tutorial we focus on the creation of the main characters: let’s create the first one by assigning it a name.

Step 4: get to know the character in depth

This is certainly the most important step.

All the great characters in the stories have one thing in common: they are believable.

Characters who are either completely good or completely bad are stereotypes and therefore not believable.

What makes a positive character interesting and believable is discovering their dark side. What makes us empathetic with an evil character is knowing that before they became who they is, they was a sweet and generous person.

So, how then can we create interesting characters? Knowing them thoroughly, so that it emerges their human nature, with strengths, weaknesses, contradictions.


bibisco offers an innovative, simple and fun way to get to know the characters: by interviewing them!

Character's interview in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s interview in bibisco

Through 138 questions divided into 6 sections (personal data, physical features, behaviors and attitudes, psychology, ideas and passions, sociology) we can know everything about our characters.

Main character's section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Main character’s section in bibisco

It’s also possible to enrich the knowledge of a character by associating images with it. One of the images can be selected as profile picture.

The associated images and the profile picture can be used as a source of inspiration while building the character or later when writing the story.

Character's images visible while writing in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s images visible while writing in bibisco

Step 5: get to know the story of the character before the story’s beginning

The way of being of each of us, in every moment of our life, is determined by our character and by the experiences we have lived up to that moment.

For this reason, bibisco provides two tools for knowing the character’s life before the story begins.

The first tool is a dedicated section in which to describe the childhood, adolescence, school and professional life of a character up to the moment of the beginning of the story.

The second tool is a section in which to indicate the significant events of the character’s life, with dates and descriptions.

Character's event section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s event section in bibisco

The events indicated in this section will then be merged into the novel’s general timeline.

Step 6: define the conflict of the character

As we discussed in detail in a previous post: no conflict, no novel!

Every main character has a conflict: a dream to be realized, a reaction to an external event, an inner need.

The conflict leads the character to action and thus to start the story.

bibisco has a dedicated section in which to describe the character’s conflict.

Character's conflict section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s conflict section in bibisco

Step 7: define the evolution of the characters

Every story is the story of a change in the condition of things and the evolution of the characters during this process.

And the evolution of the characters is the most interesting aspect because it’s what excites, inspires or upsets us. It’s what we’ll remember when we forget the plot.

As discussed in a previous post, every author should always ask himself: can my readers see themselves in my characters?

bibisco has a dedicated section in which to describe the character’s evolution during the story.

Character's evolution section in bibisco
How to Master Character Creation in 7 Simple Steps
Character’s evolution section in bibisco

Conclusion

This is how to master character creation in 7 Simple Steps.

Now it’s your turn! Download bibisco now and start creating characters your readers won’t forget.

Why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless

Why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless

If you’re writing a novel, you’ll understand the most important aspect is the characters. And ensuring those characters keep people interested while they’re reading is vital. If your characters are doing the same thing, day in and day out, people are going to get bored quickly. This is why the evolution of characters in your writing is essential.

Think about those novels that you remember that you may have read 20 years ago. Why do you remember them? It’s the characters. And most likely, it’s because those characters underwent some sort of physical, emotional or psychological transformation. (Take a look at The Hero with a Thousand Faces of Joseph Campbell).

So, why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless?

The fact is, everyone changes

If you want people reading your book to relate to the characters, you want them to be as realistic as possible. Our lives are never mundane, and there’s no such thing as ordinary. Almost every year of our lives is filled with some type of change, and for some of us, it’s every month or week.

Couples, for example, meet for the first time, they start dating, get engaged and then married, they have children, then grandchildren – they may even get divorced. It’s a natural progression of life. Not only that, but we change jobs, we travel, and we do things in our lives that are significant. You want your characters to embody all of this as well.

So, what is change?

And how can you incorporate this into your characters? Change is anything that happens in life that is outside the “norm”. You can get up every day at the same time, shower, eat breakfast, get in the car or catch a train, and go to work at the same job you’ve been at for 10 years, doing the same job you’ve always done. That’s the norm.

But if you catch a train and all of sudden, you trip and fall and break your hand – that’s change. If you get to work and they’re holding a party for you because you’ve been promoted, that’s change.

How to plot change

You want to make the change believable and relatable to your character.

If your story is about a poor farmer girl in the 1800s who falls in love with a rich city boy, she probably shouldn’t grow fairy wings all of a sudden. Unless of course, that’s what your novel is all about.

But change for your characters should evolve slowly throughout the book. It’s best if you write down all the character changes before you start your novel – it will make more sense when you’re writing. Set the scene for each chapter and set expectations for what might happen.

Once you have the character features set, it’s time to shake it up a bit. Which part of the story could do with a bit more excitement? And how are you going to introduce that?

For example, you have a story about two young lovers in the 1900s, on a farm, and they’re standing having a conversation about the weather. Suddenly, a storm hits and floods the property, and the boy gets washed away. This changes everything (and opens the path for a pretty good story).

Use your own experiences

We understand why if your characters don’t evolve your novel is useless.

The best, and easiest, way to draw on change for your characters is to think about your own experiences or fears. For a simple example – if you’re afraid of spiders, your character could be also – and they could come face to face with a huge spider as part of the storyline. Think about what makes you tick and what impacted you when you were growing up – and use it as part of your character’s storyline.

Remember, you want the characters in your novel to be remembered forever. This means they need to create a psychological and emotional connection to the reader. By evolving, the characters in your story are more relatable – in life, we all evolve.

If you need help to do this, bibisco is a novel writing software that helps to turn your good ideas into a fantastic novel.

Why if your characters don't evolve your novel is useless. - bibisco architecture - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco architecture section

It can help you to create your characters and define where they’re headed within the story. Try it yourself today.

The beauty of common people

The beauty of common people

The beauty of common people: keep them boring, or shake things up!

Every story has “common” characters who keep showing up in novels because they may be significant to moving your story along or they may be just there as a mention.

They don’t have any kind of past trauma, and they may not be the lead, they are just as important. For starters, it gives the reader a sense of realism – not everyone lives a dramatic life, and even the people who seem most insignificant in your life can play a huge role. Or, they have the potential to shake things up a bit, particularly in your writing.

And just like in life, if you didn’t have these “common” people who don’t bring drama everywhere they go, it would be boring, right?

How common characters can shake things up

Your common characters could come into your writing by simple name drops. And you have two options – you can keep them as being boring characters who are simply there to add life to the story, OR you could use those characters to shake things up later in the story.

Here’s a few examples:

  • If your novel is about crime, as your story unfolds, perhaps an old friend’s name might come through in your investigation. Your memories of that person are pretty standard – they never did anything exciting, they were simply floating through life without creating issues. But, they could become a central part of the investigation (and perhaps even the killer).
  • You might consider protagonists workmates. If your character is a CEO of a multimillion-dollar enterprise, there is most likely someone who is instrumental in helping him to achieve his goals but wishes to remain anonymous. If you want to expand on this role later in the novel, you can easily turn the story around so that the workmate is someone who secretly objects to his boss’s moving up the ladder, leaving him behind even though he’s been with the firm for a number of years.
  • There are neighbours who you don’t give the time of day to, however, by a chance meeting they eventually play a significant role in your story. What about the lead’s mother or father-in-law? How would they fit into the story? They could well end up hiding many secrets you discover along the way. This secret will change the whole dynamic of your lead’s relationship making your story even more interesting.

Minor characters

If your novel is a romance, there are many options here for minor characters. Your lead may be a bit of a Lothario and one of his conquests shows up at a most inappropriate time and place. Or an ex-girlfriend whom he may have completely forgotten about, decides to get in touch.

Just remember that your characters don’t always have to be exciting, and they don’t always need to bring drama into the story for them to play a part. Also keep in mind that too many common characters who are simply there for show will slow the story down. So don’t go overboard with the “extras”.

How do you determine common characters?

Have you ever sat in a shopping centre and people-watched? This is a great opportunity to create a minor character for your novel. There might be one person that stands out as memorable, whether it’s the way they’re dressed or their mannerisms, or what they eat. They might be just the character you’re looking for to include in one of your scenes.

The beauty of common people - bibisco character's section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s section

If you need any help in understanding and creating minor characters, bibisco is a novel writing software that will help turn your novel into a best seller. Try it today!

Good guys are boring

Good guys are boring

Are you writing a novel or a short story and trying to work out the details of your character?

Or, perhaps you’re in a relationship with a good guy and wondering why you thinking of dumping them. You’re not alone!

Good guys are typically seen as boring.

It may be because they don’t like to take risks, or perhaps because they don’t challenge the norms of society.

The truth is that generally no one is attracted to nice guys. Or not?

The issue with good guys

Good guys don’t have to be boring!

In fact, many good guys aren’t boring. The key is to understand what constitutes good.

  • Good as an adjective– to be desired of or approved of
  • Good as a noun – righteousness

There is little doubt that a righteous man should be desirable. They put others first, are caring and compassionate. But, they are unlikely to take any risks or enjoy some adventure. In short, you’re going to find this type of good guy boring.

But, the good guy that is to be desired or approved of has more room to maneuver. They can accept the current rules but be prepared to break them because they are fundamentally good, but realistic.

Realism and good guys

That’s the fundamental difference. A good guy that always seeks the moral high ground is hard to cope with. They are rigid in their approach to rules, even if these rules can be detrimental to them and their family.

But, a realistic good guy lives with those rules and bends them where necessary. They are not afraid to push the boundaries and have an adventure.

At the same time, they will not unnecessarily break the rules, although there may be times when this is necessary. That’s a regular good guy that you can create a story around.

You should also consider the fact that many great guys have lewd and licentious desires. These remain hidden from the average person and don’t stop them from being a good guy.

A great example of this is the Fifty Shades trilogy. Christian Gray appears to be a good guy with a successful business. But, he certainly isn’t boring. He knows how to get what he wants and he has significant flaws that were developed during his upbringing.

The Bad Guy

In contrast, the bad guy is someone who has no regard for rules, they are happy to do anything and try anything without regard for the consequences. It makes them seem appealing and adventurous. You’re guaranteed to find excitement, risk, and danger around a bad guy.

However, in the long term, this becomes a less appealing concept as the bad guy doesn’t have time for others and can’t build functioning relationships.
As a character in your novel, the bad guy is likely to be thrilling but ultimately their nature is one of self-interest.

This drives the reader to dislike them and wants them to fail.

Making good guys appealing with a novel writing software

When drafting a novel you need to appreciate that every person is flawed.

The best flaws are those that affect personality and are invisible to most. They drive people, often resulting in their good or bad guy image. It’s the resolution of those flaws that makes the good guy, and the bad guy, appeal to your reader.

That’s why the bad guy can become the good guy, and vice versa.

If you’re concerned about how to keep track of all this then bibisco has you covered. The novel planning software helps you create plotlines and maintain the story chapter by chapter. But, it also excels at character building.

You are not just listing characteristics. The secret to developing characters is to use the interview technique, you can use the bibisco novel writing software to do this.

Good guys are boring - bibisco interview mode - 
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco interview mode

By adopting this approach you’ll ask your character questions and note the answers. It will build a complete picture of them and their flaws, allowing you to develop the novel and stay in character throughout.

Conclusion

A completely good guy is boring.

They will look after you and do their best to serve the needs of the community. It’s simply human nature to find anything that is too perfect boring.

But, good guys can be exciting if they are prepared to challenge the boundaries and you are prepared to show their hidden flaws.

After all, the flaws make them more appealing and reflect that good guys don’t have to be boring, they also have issues that need to be dealt with.

The life of your characters before the story’s beginning

The life of your characters before the story’s beginning

“When Martina first noticed Paolo walking down the pavement, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Never in her imagination, she thought about meeting Paolo in such an ordinary circumstance.”

Let’s say it is the beginning of a story. What is Martina going to do next? Aren’t Martina’s past encounters with Paolo would shape her behaviors today?

It surely would because the way all of us humans live the day is the result of our way of being and of our experiences right up to that point.

That’s why backstory is so important for your characters, for them to be humans.

The backstory is what happened to your character before the story began

Getting back to our story, who is this Martina? How old is she? How does she know Paolo? Are they friendly to each other? How does Martina greet someone?

These little details may or may not feature in your story.

But whatever happened to your characters for them to come to this opening point of your story is what an author should find out in the character’s backstory.

It’s the personal history of your characters, a fundamental step in the process of character development.

It is a great tool for the author, as it can hugely benefit in understanding your characters – their fears, inner and outer lives, motivations, etc.

Backstory impacts a character’s behavior and adds depth to the story

Whether it happened yesterday or a long time ago, different events shape a person’s life, and thus, could be included in your character’s backstory.

The richer the character’s backgrounds are, the more depth you would get into your story.

These details would also help you differentiate one character from the other with distinctive actions and dialogues.

Your responsibility as a writer is to give the characters’ human forms and personalities by pulling out significant details from their life history.

Some of these important life events could be:

  • The time, date, and place of birth.
  • Family orientations and the relationships with each other.
  • Personality type, skills and talents.
  • Educational background, profession, passion and hobbies.
  • Current and past relationship status.
  • Political affiliation, spiritual life, life views and goals.
  • Anger triggers, goals, joys, fears, etc.
  • Friends and acquaintances.
  • Biggest failures, successes, tragedies.

So, immerse yourself into your characters and fill their lives with incidents and events. Let your imagination flow and visualize their childhood, their love life, their biggest support and such in the context of your story.

For example, if you know the relationship between Martina and Paolo; you would be able to design how they speak or respond to each other authentically.

It doesn’t matter if in your novel will be shown only one day of the life of our characters: the way they will live that day, every single gesture, will be the result of their way of being and experiences lived before the story’s beginning.

You can utilize novel writing software to create rich backstories

Sketching out the life of your character can easily get a little complicated due to the amount of information you could get. Considering that bibisco, our advanced novel writing software, comes with a fully-featured character’s dashboard.

The life of your characters before the story's beginning - bibisco character's dashboard
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s dashboard

With elaborate questionnaires regarding the character’s personal data, physical features, behaviors, attitudes, psychology, conflict, evolution, and so on; it challenges the author to think all the minutest details of the character’s life.

The life of your characters before the story's beginning - bibisco character's interview
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s interview

Intuitive, playful and easily accessible, bibisco keeps the authors motivated and interested to know more and more about their character’s life.

Conclusion

The importance of creating the life of your characters before the story’s beginning can’t be stressed enough. It makes them multi-dimensional, and in turn, makes the story memorable.

As bibisco comes featured with the most detailed dashboard to spell out the backstories of a character, it is now simpler than ever to add depth to your novels.

Are your characters people or stereotypes?

Are your characters people or stereotypes?

Harry Potter, Tom Sawyer, Princess Leia, Romeo and Juliet.

If you are an aspiring writer or an avid reader, you know the abovementioned names aren’t of any ordinary people. They are the protagonists, the main characters of some of the greatest novels of all time.

See, how swiftly you recognized them! As if they were your best companions for a long time. And trust me, they were.

Characters are key to a memorable story

When we read a story or a novel, oftentimes, it’s the characters that we remember the most; not the plot or the conflict. After all, it’s the characters that make a story humane; taking us on a dreamlike journey with their merits, contradictions, flaws, etc.

As a result, if you are writing a novel, the success of it is not going to depend on which novel writing software you are using. But it is certainly going to depend largely on the believability of your characters.

The more humane and real they are with both the perfections and the flaws; the more chance they have got to be genuine and to rise above the generic stereotypes.

Give your characters a unique life of their own

To avoid falling into the trap of stereotypes, the most practical way for writers is to begin with giving characters a life of their own.

Where they were born? How old are they? How do they look like? What relationship do they have with their father? And with the mother? Asking all these questions would gradually give your characters a basic structure.

However, it may also make your characters feel very generic. I mean, you don’t remember Harry Potter just because of how he looked like or where he was born, do you?

Help your characters surprise you

As a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we supposed. And we ourselves are, too.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

People are not as simple and straightforward as non-living things. We are a delicate mix of good and bad, novelty and flaws, selfishness and selflessness, sensitivity and insensitivity, and so on at the same time.

So, your characters shouldn’t be all perfect and rigid. Rather, they should be as surprising and multi-dimensional as the real people.

Utilize a novel planning software like bibisco

bibisco – an innovative novel planning software – offers an exciting feature to dive deep into the complexity of human nature, helping you to create your characters as people and not as stereotypes.

With a set of difficult questions, bibisco guides you to find out information about your characters that don’t easily meet the eyes.

Are your characters people or stereotypes? - bibisco character's dashboard
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s dashboard

For example, it’s easy to answer whether your character is brave or not. But it’s certainly not easy to answer how is the relationship with their father? Or how do they react to successes and failures? By asking a series of such questions, bibisco would force you to think elaborately about your characters and go beyond the realm of your novel.

Are your characters people or stereotypes? - bibisco character's interview
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s interview

Eventually, these thoughts and imaginations would shape the ways your characters would be behaving in the particular instances of your story, making them real and not just a stereotype.

Conclusion

While there is no story without conflicts, there is no conflict that the readers would actually care about without real and believable characters. So, make sure your characters represent actual people with all the complexity before giving them challenges to solve.

A novel writing software like bibisco can surely benefit in creating multi-dimensional, humane characters; thanks to its brilliant character development features consisting of a set of difficult questions.

Are you ready to create your characters as people and not as stereotypes? Try out the feature now and let us know how exciting your experience was in the comments!

Are you worthy of the trust of your readers?

Are you worthy of the trust of your readers?

Right now the number of books available is immense.

Through libraries and bookstores, both physical and online, every reader can access almost every book that has ever been written.

So, today more than ever, the reader by starting to read our novel takes an act of trust.

And as writers we have to ask ourselves a question: am I worthy of the trust of my readers?

The principle of suspension of disbelief

To try to answer this fundamental question, let’s introduce the principle of suspension of disbelief.

The principle was introduced by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the fourteenth chapter of his Biographia Literaria, published in 1817.

Are you worthy of the trust of your readers? To try to answer this fundamental question, let's introduce the principle of suspension of disbelief.
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
Peter Vandyke – http://www.zeno.org/Literatur/I/coleridg.jpg, held at the National Portrait Gallery

The principle of suspension of disbelief is a tacit agreement between the reader and the writer in which the reader agrees to suspend his own critical sense and trust the writer’s words while being perfectly aware that it’s fiction.

The principle of suspension of disbelief allows the reader to enjoy the story.

During the reading, the reader doesn’t ask himself questions and, as soon as he closes the book or he turns off his e-reader, the magic stops and the reader returns to reality.

A question of trust

As Coleridge wrote, starting to read a novel, the reader trusts the writer.

And the writer shall act to deserve that trust, otherwise, the reader will stop the reading of the story.

So, how will the writer prove himself worthy of the trust of his readers?

It’s quite simple: the writer must tell a believable story.

And since every story starts from the conflict of characters, a believable story must start from believable characters.

Believable characters

Characters that are completely good or completely evil are stereotypes and therefore are not believable.

Characters are believable when you can understand the complexity of their human nature: qualities, defects, contradictions.

So, how can we create believable characters?

The only way is to know everything about them.

Physical aspect, behavior, psychology, sociology, ideas, passions, their life before the beginning of the novel.

It doesn’t matter if in our novel will be shown even one day of the life of our characters: the way they will live that day, every single gesture, will be the result of their way of being and experiences lived until the day before.

Interview your characters!

bibisco is a novel writing software that can really help you to know your characters.

In order to do this, bibisco proposes a funny and unusual method to know them: an interview!

bibisco proposes a funny and unusual method to know your characters: an interview!
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s interview

Every aspect to know about a character has a dedicated card and for each aspect a series of questions.

In bibisco every aspect to know about a character has a dedicated card and for each aspect a series of questions.
bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco character’s dashboard

The characters’ interview is one of the bibisco features that writers appreciate the most.

They say that question after question the characters take shape and become real.

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

Conclusion

By starting to read our novel, readers decide they trust us.

To be worthy of this trust we have to create a believable story based upon believable characters.

The only way to create believable characters is by knowing everything about them. Using bibisco characters’ interviews we can do it in an effective and funny way.