Help writing characters for a story


Hi everyone,
I have been wanting to write a story for a while. While the ideas for a plot and theme are kicking around in my head, I find that I have been unable to create and develop characters. Maybe I have a hard time understanding people, and this is why. But I have an idea for a story I want to write, and I need help in learning to create characters. Please pray for me. I feel like this is a story God wants me to write, and I have been putting it off, because I figured it was just something I wanted to do. So when I came up against difficulty, I would just try to do something else. But I am pretty sure God wants me to figure out how to write this story, and the biggest obstacles is characters. I think that in taking on this challenge, it might help me in life in general. But the story I plan on writing is going to be a vehicle for leading people to God.
Thank you for any prayers for this intention.
God bless you all. Amen.


First and foremost you must START. At least begin with a simple sentence or paragraph…such as…so and so felt the sand in (his or her) slid beneath so and so’s feet. Now put the five w’s into the story, the who, why, where, what or when. Start to develop your character. Building a character need not be done all at once, but can be slipped in here and there. Also, decide if you are going to write in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person. Try to pick one and not jumble them up. Just like H. S. create an outline to follow so that you know where you will start, where the story leads and how it will end.
Now then: You have asked for help in writing your story several times in the past and so far you have never mentioned your progress or if you have made a serious start. If you really think God wants you to be a writer then you better make haste 'cause no one lives forever by just thinking about it.


Hail Mary
Full of grace
The Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb,
Holy Mary
Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of death, Amen.


A story like a 5,000-word short story? Or a story like a 90,000-word novel? :slight_smile:

Characters are easy, if you already have your plot. You figure out what kind of people you need to move the action forward. You figure out what kind of people need to grow and overcome whatever the problem is. You figure out, “If I need to have this person end up as X at the end…” and then backtrack in your head to figure out where they came from, and how they got there.

Characters without a plot are hard. :slight_smile: They just sort of sit there and twiddle their thumbs and stare at each other. You can make them the most intricately-plotted people in the world… but if they don’t have anything to do, or a reason to exist, they won’t do you any good. :slight_smile:

So I’m happy you have your plot first. That’s always the easiest way.

If you’re doing a short story, it’s generally tight enough to control everything in your head— or at least know your starting point, have a good idea of your end point, and the middle kind of pulls itself together as the words spill out.

If you’re doing a novel, take a few hours or days to stick it all down in Word or on paper or whatever— where you start, where you end, how you plan on getting there. You add in your plot twists at points A and B. You sprinkle in your foreshadowing at points C, D, and E. You can figure out pretty quickly if the plot is too straightforward for your word count, so at this stage, it’s pretty easy to add in a subplot or two to help beef up the complexity. You figure out the purpose of each chapter, how it advances the plot, how you control the tension, how it develops the characters, how you keep your reader moving on to the next chapter instead of sticking in their bookmark at a convenient stopping-point. It’s way easier to modify things at this point, than it is to throw away 20,000 words of writing, because the person you thought was the main character wasn’t actually the main character, or because you wrote yourself into a corner. :slight_smile: It will still change, of course… but it won’t be because you forgot “where was I going with this?” because you started writing in September, and now it’s February, and you knew you were going to do something cool in chapter 14, but it’s slipped your mind… :slight_smile:

If you don’t know your characters yet, start plotting out your plot anyways. Call them A or Heroine or give them a code name as a place filler. As you figure out what’s expected of them, they’ll start developing personalities, history, backstory, whatever. You might not use 99% of it… but at least they’ll be real to you.


I used to play play-by-email (PBEM) rpg’s in the mid/late 90’s. Basically, it was like a communal story that you emailed back and forth with a group of people. In order to get accepted in, you needed to fill out a character sheet, and the people running the PBEM would decide (a) whether your writing was up to snuff for the game they wanted to play, and (b) whether your character would fit in with the game they were running. I still keep those character sheets/auditions in the back of my head, when I’m trying to develop a character-- make them interesting enough to not be cardboard cutouts, but not so offbeat, they turn into parodies, which is more of a problem in some genres than others.


I have started writing some. Mostly ideas that I have. Questions about what I want to put in, but maybe haven’t figured out or that I may have to do some research on. So I have been doing some writing, but it is mostly in the form of brainstorming, questions, and whatever ideas I do have. Been writing a little each day. I posted this because one of the big things I have had trouble thinking up is characters.


Keep up the good work. Brainstorming is good-kind of like an outline Set a goal for yourself. Write a page every day. As there are 365 days in a year you will have at least 365 pages written. You will have time to revise, correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation wherever needed. Say a lot with fewer words as in good poetry. Some days you may wish to write a lot or sometimes less, but keep writing something.
A great classic piece of literature to study that said so much to so many people with few words…is the Gettysburg Adress. Characters will come and develop; the more you write the clearer they become. Keep going.


Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.



Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.




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