Have your characters ever given you problems? Since you are the writer, shouldn't your characters just do exactly as you tell them? Well, not always. If you allow it, your characters will come to life and tell you how your story should progress.
1) Do you understand your characters actions? Or are they just cardboard figures doing things without any motivation, things you have decided they must do in order to make the plot work? Your characters must have logical reasons, at least known by you, for the actions that they take.
Before you begin writing, make sure you know each of your characterís motivations. Why do they act as they do? If you donít understand why, then neither will your readers. Your characterís motivations and personalities can change as the story progresses. Remember, nothing is final until it has been published and hit the shelves of bookstores.
2) Do all of your characters seem to turn out the same? Do they talk the same way, act the same way, have the same feelings about things? This isnít cool, for your readers need to be able to tell the individual characters apart and realize that they are different people.
How do you breathe new life into stale characters? Try using people you know or have met as templates for your charactersí actions, point of view and appearance. Donít make them a carbon copy of the actual people, just make them similar. In order to make sure each character has their own unique form of dialogue, just as real people do, use highlighters or colored pencils. Throughout your story, using a different color for each character, highlight or underline the dialogue in order to ensure that they donít all begin talking the same way at some point during the story.
3) Do you have so many characters that there is no way you, or your reader, could ever keep track of them? On the other hand, do you have so few characters that each of them have far too much to accomplish?
Of course, in just about any story you are going to have characters, or extras, with just a very small part to play, such as a mail person, desk clerk or waiter. So as not to confuse the reader, it may be a good idea for these characters to remain nameless.
How do you decide which characters should have names? If the character has a vital part in the story or appears throughout the entire story, then he should have a name. How do you decide what to name the character? So the reader isnít confused, you should try to have each name begin with a different letter. It is also a good idea for the names not to be really, really long. Who would be able to remember a 16 letter name? So much easier to remember names that are short and easy to pronounce.