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How-to Tuesday

How to Bring Your Characters to Life: Part 6 – Making Sure Your Character is Unique

Every week, we update our current how-to series about creating realistic characters, entitled “How to Bring Your Characters to Life,” providing a handy activity to help you turn your characters into realistic “people.” Last week’s post was about mapping your character’s personal journey. This week, we will make sure that the character you have created is unique by adding some quirky or unusual traits to his or her personality.

Sure Your Character is Unique

Over the past few weeks, you have made many decisions about your character in many different ways. You probably have a strong idea about who your main character is as a person, and how things are going to go for them throughout your story. Now that you have decided these things, let’s add a little spice into the mix by peppering your character’s personality with various quirks.

Right now, your character might fit into a stereotypical category, such as a “soccer mom,” an “overprotective father,” a “rebellious teen,” a “loyal best friend,” etc. Adding some unique touches to your character will help them “break the mold” if they are stereotypical, and make them even more interesting to your readers if they are already unusual or weird.

Activity #1:

Listed below are ten examples of some common phobias. Pick one from the list to give to your character, or create one of your own. Then create a situation in which your character has to confront their phobia. Write at least one to two paragraphs. Then see how you can incorporate this situation into your story outline.

  1. Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders.
  2. Ophidiophobia: Fear of snakes.
  3. Acrophobia: Fear of heights.
  4. Agoraphobia: Fear of situations in which escape is difficult. (ex: crowded areas, open spaces, or situations that are likely to trigger a panic attack, such as a loud party or hectic festival full of strangers)
  5. Cynophobia: Fear of dogs.
  6. Astraphobia: Fear of thunder and lightening.
  7. Trypanophobia: Fear of injections.
  8. Social Phobias: Fear of social situations.
  9. Pteromerhanophobia: Fear of flying.
  10. Mysophobia: Fear of germs or dirt.
Activity #2

Think about three different people that you know very well. Answer the following questions for each person. Once you have answered the questions, write a paragraph in which you combine some of these new personality traits and add them to your main character’s personality.

  1. Name
  2. What makes this person unique?
  3. Can you add this unique quality to your own character? Why or why not?

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