How To Write Believable Characters

woman writing on a notebook beside teacup and tablet computer
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on

Other than plot, your characters play a major role in your stories. Without characters, there wouldn’t be much of a story, right? And without believable characters, there may not be much of a good story. And we’re all here to take a stab at good–great–writing!

For the full discussion, listen below:

Whether you are a planner or a pantser, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with your characters and how they will play a part in the plot before you start writing.

In order to create your characters, think about the following qualities to assign to each one:

  1. Name (first, middle, last)
  2. Age
  3. Gender
  4. Sex
  5. Sexual orientation
  6. Race/Ethnicity/Culture
  7. Body type/physical characteristics
  8. Family life/home life
  9. Friends
  10. Occupation
  11. Hobbies
  12. Flaws
  13. Goals
  14. Where they live
  15. Major personality traits/ticks

Even if some traits don’t play a major role in the plot, they are still important details to know about your characters in order to make them more real. If they feel more real to you, they will come off more believable in your writing. They should jump right off the page!

train with smoke
Photo by Gabriela Palai on

Think about Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, and even Pennywise. They all feel like actual people and we talk about them as if they are real. They all have true human qualities that make them so believable. Think about characters like these for inspiration when creating your own.

One of my favorite author YouTubers, Jenna Moreci, explains how to write character profiles really well in her video here. She also publishes a lot of super helpful content where she offers advice to other fellow writers. A lot about what I have learned about fictional writing is from her!

Writing character profiles is a great way to start organizing your thoughts for your next best seller (best seller, right?). I just began to write my new characters for my next WIP and I couldn’t be more excited to start writing it now. I feel more prepared and well-acquainted with my characters for my next WIP, and I am continuously feeling closer to my characters in my current WIP.  

I always think about what Stephen King wrote in his memoir On Writing where he advises to write one book per season. For me, I think it is more realistic to write one or two per year, but the idea is to always keep things moving. Work ahead so you have a steady number of pieces to publish on a regular schedule. Your character profiles will definitely help in the process!


Happy writing!


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One thought on “How To Write Believable Characters

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  1. A character evolves as their story emerges. A profile can be useful to keep from mixing up details. But I certainly wouldn’t start with one. It evolves. Interestingly, I have a character I’ve known a long time, I know all about his mother issues and the tension he had with his half brother and his approaches to women and to his passions and ambitions but it’s never occurred to me to wonder about his middle name. 🙂


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