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Steps to Success » The Craft of Writing

How to Craft Compelling Characters

A lot of focus is placed on characterisation in creative writing. However, developing the relationships between characters takes this to the next level. You can give your characters more depth and make them realistic and relatable by considering how they connect with each other. Take a look at the tips below on developing this aspect of your writing.

Start by determining the nature of the relationship(s) between the characters. Let’s use a character called Chris as an example. Chris has a mentor called Alison he trusts and looks up to. He also has a friend called Jayden, who he has treasured and looked after since he was young.

Next, consider how these relationships change throughout the story. Continuing the example from above, Alison the mentor turns out to be a villainous mastermind who orchestrated the deaths of Chris’ parents before the start of the story! The admiration and trust that Chris felt turns into hatred and a desire for vengeance. Fortunately, Chris knows that he can really depend on Jayden, and he calls on his friend for help.

Then, think about how the relationships change throughout the story and how this impacts your protagonist and the plot. In the example, Alison’s betrayal makes Chris cynical and distrustful towards everyone apart from Jayden. It’s only with Jayden’s encouragement in his darkest moments that Chris can be brave enough to accomplish his goals.

Finally, show the characters’ relationship dynamics through dialogue and action. To conclude the example, Chris initially speaks admiringly and respectfully to and about Alison. But then the truth is revealed. After this, their interactions are charged with hatred and violence. Meanwhile, Chris always reassures Jayden in earlier parts of the story, but as the plot progresses, it is Jayden who encourages and comforts Chris.

What sort of intercharacter relationships are you going to give your latest protagonist?

For more tips from our teaching team on succeeding in writing and everything else, see the rest of this article series here.