Characters Also Need A Soul: 5 Tips to Write Interesting Characters


by Cátia Isabel Silva

When you’re imagining a story, creating the characters for it is just another part of the job. It’s almost automatic, the way they get into your mind, showing you what they look like, how they think, yet, putting those things down on paper isn’t always as obvious or easy to do.

I’m not talking about poor writing skills here, no. They can be well written and yet, not appear interesting at all or straight up unappealing. So, what can you do?


1. No stereotypes

Stereotyped characters aren’t surprising or intriguing. If you want to write one, you should have a specific goal to accomplish with it, and, even so, you can make your character much more interesting by adding some characteristics that run against that stereotype. It grants something new to the story and your readers will like it.


2. Everyone has a secret
A big nasty secret is a hand full of great scenes for a novel or short story. Give your character a secret, something that he or she tries to hide and do not fully open it up to your readers. Let them strain and test themselves while trying to guess at what it is. They’ll become that much more invested in it…


3. You know those kinds of things you can’t do? He can!

In the world of fiction, everything is possible. In real world we constantly deal with desires and impulses we must control, but in fiction, your character can in fact do it all. Being impulsive and doing unexpected things will actually make him even more interesting. If your character acts on what your readers must try to keep under control, they will keep focus on your story.


4. Action!

A passive character is boring. Let’s face it, we all like to read about that person who does things, changes their life, or the people they love. The person who take the reins of their lives. Let your character be one such person. That will get people invested in them.


5. They need to make sense

Doesn’t matter how crazy your character is, there must be reasons for his or her actions, other than pure craze or randomness. Your character should have values and beliefs that guide their actions. It will make the character itself deeper, more profound and human, and it will help lead the readers towards empathizing with him (or her).




Guest post contributed by by Cátia Isabel Silva. Catia is a Portugal native who works in the school system. In 2010, she wrote New World as her debut novel.

16 thoughts on “Characters Also Need A Soul: 5 Tips to Write Interesting Characters

  1. Motivation is probably the most important thing in a character; without it they won’t do anything. It helps to have a sense of their culture too, not so much stereotypical, but they should have a background.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You hit it a lot on the head. Creating an interesting character is rather easy for your primary characters, but how about the secondary characters (like the guy’s spouse or friends). They can get a little more difficult, but it can be done. You have to do it through their mouths, give them a voice.

    One thing I like to toss into my characters is conflict.

    For example, in one of my stories, Will Diaz and his buddy Jonesy have to hunt down and bring to justice another friend. A friend that has shed blood alongside them, and at least in Will’s case, Will owes his life to. Now in the holy name of the law, he has to hunt him down.

    Or in another, he finds himself pitted against his members of his own family. He discovers many of them are up to their eyeballs in some of the most heinous things imaginable. And now he has to make a decision, does he stick to his dedication as a Law Enforcement Officer and take actions that will send a lot of them away for a long time, or does he listen to everyone else and blow it off.


  3. “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” – Kurt Vonnegut.
    Thanks for your post. This is good and helpful. I’m trying to break into the world of (very) short fiction. If you ever have the chance, please come check out my blog. perfunctory


  4. Thank you so much for this article! Perfect timing! Yes–I am struggling with character-building and such. I wrote reports in my various jobs, and this carried over into my articles. Indeed, because of the information on your site, I am ‘seeing more clearly,’


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