This is such incredible advice for both established and aspiring writers. I know as an actress, in all of my drama workshops, my coaches instruct us to know every physical and psychological facet of the characters we play. And it’s the same for writers. I think there’s a clear difference between a book whose characters are ‘cardboard cut-outs’, lacking profundity and difficult to identify with, and books whose characters become readers’ friends, confidants and lovers. Harry Potter is an example of a character so alive that he’s become an incremental part of the lives of so many

Cinderella in Combat Boots


Remember that you’re the God of your world when you’re writing a story. That’s why when you’re writing your characters, you should be creating real people, not just cardboard cutouts to stand in an imagined world. The characters should not merely be tools that will push the plot forward, or one-dimensional caricatures to serve as avatars for your idiosyncrasies. Make them live. Make them breathe.
You must know each character inside out. You should see him naked—literally and metaphorically. Undress him. Learn all the facts about him, from his real full name to the last toy he ever had as a kid. Know all his blemishes and flaws, his most embarrassing memories, his worst fears. Discover his dreams and aspirations, his regrets and frustrations; find out what makes him flinch and what makes him smile despite himself. Feel him under your hands, run your fingers over his scars…

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4 thoughts on “

  1. I totally agree. Usually in my first draft, I have my characters walk around being a bit overdramatic, living with their hearts on their sleeves so they let me know what they really think. Then in the edits, I paint them over and make sure their true colors show.

    Sorry for getting that song stuck in your head – the metaphor fit.

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