Creating Believable Characters


For a “Friend” story to be successful, characters must complement their story settings.

A writer can create the most exciting and colourful of locations, but if they are populated by bland characters, the reader will quickly lose interest.

Our guidelines state that readers “like to know how a character feels, as well as what he, or she, is doing. Write from the heart as well as the head — so that the emotion of the situation comes across strongly”.

What will definitely keep the “Friend” reader reading is character identity. Our stories are about people; ones that the reader can root for through the duration of a story.

Believable characterisation is one of the most important elements to effective storytelling. It’s about making the characters unique and stand out on the page.

Write with purpose

A writer doesn’t have to have experienced what a character is going through to be able to make them “real”. But there should still be a purpose to the writing.

In her book If You Want To Write, novelist and creative writing teacher Brenda Ueland said:

“Once I was playing the piano and a musician, overhearing it, said to me: ‘It isn’t going anywhere. You must always play to someone — it may be to the river, or God, or to someone who is dead, or to someone in the room, but it must go somewhere.’”

If it helps, write for “The People’s Friend” reader.

That way, regardless of characters’ circumstances or story goals, their personalities will demand the reader’s attention.

Believable characters will shine from the page. It’s writing from the heart.

You can find more tips in our Writing Tools section. 

And if you need a little inspiration to get started with your next story, take a look at Fiction Ed Lucy’s Writing Prompts here. Do these situations/scenarios suggest any characters to you?

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.