Posted by: nancycurteman | August 2, 2016

How to Avoid Character Lookalikes

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In a novel every character, both major and minor, must be unique. If characters are cookie cutter copies of each other even a good plot will not save your story. Sometimes it seems like a formidable task to come up with a multitude of individual traits particularly if you have a large number of characters. Take heart, here are some approaches you can use to avoid character lookalikes.

Consider the different elements that make up a person–appearance, behavior, interests, background, goals, mannerisms, motivations, style, actions, reactions to story events—and work from there. You will not address all of these when creating every character, but they provide a treasure trove of possibilities. Let’s look at a few of them.

Actions create interesting story people. What they do can induce sympathy, affection or hatred in your readers.

Mannerisms make your character more human. You can have him stutter, limp, lisp, jingle coins, clear his throat, grit his teeth, bite his lip.

Style relates to how your character dresses, styles her hair, uses cosmetics. Is she a fashion model or a hippy or a cowbird?

Interests can provide insight into character personality. A stamp collector will be quite different from a rapper.

Background will influence how story people react to events in your story. A character brought up in a strict religious family will respond differently to a given event than one from a worldly free-to-be background.

When you avoid character lookalikes each character brings something different to your story.

More Tips:

How to Create Sympathetic Mystery Novel Characters

How to Create Minor Characters in Your Mystery Novel

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