Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What is a realistic character?

When I read I love to get inside the head of realistic characters. Even when watching movies I sort of have a habit of wanting the main character to mess up, or even get hurt while trying. Yeah, I know. I'm messed up, but if the character can achieve their goal without problem or setback, then they are really dull to watch. This is probably why I prefer superheroes that are trying to hide from the cops rather than working with them.

So what makes a real character?

  • Faults
    Everyone has faults, no one is perfect (even if perfectionism is their fault). Whether it's being a slob to having a phobia, if the character has something that people can relate to, then it's easier for the reader to believe the character and get close to the character.
  • Quirks
    Everyone has some habit, trait or movement that they do (don't shake your head, you know you do). This could be a nervous habit such as biting their lip or cracking their knuckles. One of my quirks is I have a habit of pacing when speaking on the phone. Any phone call, not just upsetting or nervous calls. Sometimes these quirks aren't even noticeable to the character and they are done by the subconscious.
  • Likes/Dislikes
    Everyone has likes and dislikes, whether it's food or music or even teachers at school. Showing the character hates something or is obsessed with a band is just showing they have a personality.
  • Secrets
    Yeah, also something everyone has. Secrets can be little like the $5.00 you stole from your mother's purse when you were 13 to big as in, my father is a serial killer big. Secrets are just a part of life, and sometimes those secrets can cause problems and hurt the character when they are trying to achieve their goal.
  • Lies
    Don't tell me you've never lied. Even if it's a white lie by telling your best friend they don't look fat in that extremely tight top, that's still a lie. If the character never says anything but the truth, then they are either very, very, very honest, or just dull. 
Realistic characters portray traits that everyone has. If they don't, then what will make the reader believe they could be real or even want to follow the story with them.

What makes a realistic character to you?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent checklist! I'll go with overall baggage.

Kerri Cuev said...

Nice list! I always like a good back story because it's what makes the character unique.

Aldrea Alien said...

I think you've pretty much hit it on the nail. I'd add making mistakes to it, but that sort of comes under faults, don't it.

Got an award on my blog for you. Come by and pick it up sometime. ^_^

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