How to Create Authentic Characters

When was the last time you read a novel whose characters lingered with you far beyond the reaches of the pages they live on? Don’t you love the satisfaction of finishing a book yet still continuing to be emotionally invested and impacted by the stories it had to share?

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Maybe not as ‘enthusiastic’ as Pat here but you get the picture.

Compelling characters are the backbone of a good novel. They make or break the plot.

Without characters with strong arcs and development, the story loses its ‘oomph’ factor and becomes like any other mediocre read you have stowed away at the back of your bookshelf.

Now, I certainly wouldn’t wish that upon my stories and I’m guessing, neither would you! So here are some tips on how to create characters with class.

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Make Them Real

You would think that we dive into literature and fiction to get away from reality and on some level, we all do. But the characters that stay with us are quite often the ones we relate to the most, the ones that are fundamentally flawed and in being so, are human.

Whether you’re writing out a character who’s a wizard, alien or some sort of otherworldly creature, think about what you want that character to deliver to your readers. Make sure to incorporate certain human nuances to them which, trust me, will only make them stronger.

After all, you don’t want to alienate your readers into feeling this way.

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Don’t put them in this position.

Archetypes ≠ Stereotypes

Character archetypes are figures that resemble a familiar or recognizable set of traits attributable to one person. You might have heard of Jung’s archetypes which come up as a common reference among writers outlining their characters (and is also a credibly psychological analysis of universal personality patterns).

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Archetypes are a good way to classify your character and also better understand their incentives, fears and how they are perceived by the world. It forms the base to creating your character but the layers you add afterword are what sets your character archetype apart from turning into a stereotype.

You want to make sure you avoid what’s already been done for that particular character type. It’s alright to be inspired by popular portrayals in modern literature and cinema, as long as you add your own twist to the character that makes them stand out in their own way.

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Unique (and successful) examples of this trope would be Frodo from The Lord of the Rings, Neo from The Matrix and Katniss from The Hunger Games.

Know Your Creation

No one on this planet is more answerable for your characters than you are. You are their God and you should know them to their bones.

All the tiny details build essence and make them more real. Right down to the nitty-gritties such as whether they’re a shoe-shoe-sock-sock person or if they like rap music or their biggest pet peeves.

Every. Little. Detail. Counts.

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Yes, even that.

How can you expect your readers to connect to your characters if you don’t first?

A good way to do this is start with character outlines. Here’s a reference for you to check out and get you started!

Watch ’em Grow

You do not want your characters to be static throughout the novel with zero development. Even if they’re supporting characters, they can’t just be filler props to add depth to your MCs.

Every character has to have good reason to exist and should develop on some level throughout the novel. This is where the element of character relationships play an integral role.

How your characters interact with each other, play off each other’s strengths and weaknesses and navigate through these dynamics shape their role in the plot and their impact on the reader.

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Set Them Free

Often times, the plan we have set out for our characters doesn’t pan out exactly as we hoped, derailing to something surprising and perhaps, more wonderful.

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The beauty of bringing characters into existence includes giving them the power to choose their own path. So many times, I have been unable to write out a scene I planned for ages ago because my characters simply won’t allow it.

It’s almost as if they know themselves better than their own Creator. They break the fourth wall and refuse to cooperate unless I let them do what they choose to.

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The End

The novel may end but your characters don’t.

There is no end to character development.

They will continue down the path you set them and it’s important to let them experience that and try not to control 100% of their journey.

Give them space to breathe and evolve on their own, and you will see them flourish into something utterly captivating.

the Creator.

A universe sits at the tips of my fingers –
waiting to be penned into existence.

The blank page before me sings out from
the endless lines,
the infinite possibilities,
the worlds waiting to be breathed into life.

Characters hold their breath as their eyes follow the decorated spotlight
hands sweating
fingers digging into their trembling thighs
waiting for their moment to steal the scene.

The world shifts under their feet from
Daytime to nightfall
Green pastures and blue skies to
Muddy puddles and gray buildings.

I flick my wrist
and hearts break.

Ink blots
and darkness reigns the world.

I smile
and happy endings are in store.

For this is my creation
and I am it’s Maker.

But these unsuspecting innocents,
whose minds cannot possibly conceive
the madness of my own,
when they nudge me with their ignorance and ask
“What is your vocation?”

I sate their dwindling curiosities
my smile withholding the secrets of all I am
all I could bring to existence,
if I so desired
and simply say

“I’m a writer.”

Best Pinterest Boards for Writers

When you think Pinterest, the mental images of mouthwatering recipes, beautiful models setting off the latest fashion trends and picturesque landscapes might pop up. And you’re not wrong in thinking that Pinterest is a platform used to promote the culinary arts, fashion and travel. But have you ever wondered how you could leverage it as a writer?

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In this day and age, we have an abundance of tools at our disposal. In another post, I mentioned that Pinterest is one of my essential writing tools. And while the platform is a treasure chest of inspiring and helpful content for writers, there are a few specific boards that have helped me a lot.

Here are a couple of my favorites, a mix of renowned as well as lesser known ones that I’ve found cruising on the app. I hope these help you get started on your Pinning journey!


I. Writing Prompts

Some useless writing prompts for you illiterate chimps - Imgur

This board combines the best sources for writing prompts spanning across Tumblr, Instagram and other handy websites to provide you some pearls of inspiration or rescue you when you’re struggling with writer’s block.

II. Cover Love with BookRiot

The Voice in My Head book cover -- Dana L. Davis's new and upcoming book.

BookRiot has several boards that come in handy for readers but a favorite of mine is their cover-lovin’ board, filled with pins of beautifully done book covers. In my free time, I also draw and design book covers for some of my novels which in turn gives me the drive to keep working on them. Take a gander at these tasteful pins and imagine your own awe-inspiring cover. One day, we’ll get there too!

III. Writer’s Toolbox

Do you listen to music while you write? Here are 8 styles of music to check out.

Hands down one of the most useful reference boards I follow, the Writer’s Toolbox is your one-stop shop to all you could possibly need, linking to articles on their infamous blog (click on the one above for an example).

IV. Writer’s Spot

Moderately Confused (July/24/2019)

A lesser-known board but filled with an abundance of writing memes, quotes from famous authors and a smattering of tips here and there – this board is your laid-back writer’s vacay spot to chill at when you need a Pinterest break.

V. Writing Worksheets

Writing Character Flaws Worksheet

Are you a plotter? Do you like having your grand plans for your characters neatly scribbled down, documented and organized? This board’s for you, linking to a number of creative writing worksheets for your every need.

VI. The Writer’s Sandbox

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It may not be as (literally) eye-popping as Calvin and Hobbes’ sandbox but Mandy Wallace’s board has a mix of writing tips and tools for you to dig deep into your writing soul and build something magical.

VII. Character Inspiration

Yoshi Sudarso

One of my boards, this one features visuals of several unique and exotic individuals. When I’m looking to create a physical description of a character and in need of inspiration, this is where I go.

VIII. Great Advice for Writers

Ideas for people who HATE to plot... and for people who love it! / SKETCH OUT A PLOT FOR YOUR NOVEL #writing advice #writingtips #NaNoWriMo

Are you an aspiring writer and don’t know where to start? Or are you at a low point and looking for a little advice? As the title says, this one’s got helpful guides to specific topics, drafting tips and links to resources you can use to help you on your journey.

IX. The Craft of Writing

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Did you ever think of joining Tumblr but then changed your mind, now wondering what the writer in you is missing out on? Do not fret. This board pins screenshots of amazing posts from some of the best Tumblogs, making all of them instantly accessible in one place. Ranging from character construction to world building and dialogue, it’s all in here!

X. Writing + Editing

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Congratulations! You finished your first draft. And now, you have the daunting task of editing looking you in the eye. Is it insurmountable? Definitely not, especially if you’ve got this board to back you up. Everything editing related is on here; everything you’ll ever need to get you started on your next big adventure.


Are you an avid pinner? Are there any other boards you’d recommend? Comment if you have a few you’d like to share! There’s never enough writing tools in the world!

The First Story I Ever Wrote

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.

Octavia E. Butler

I love revisiting stories from my past. The tiny tidbits of scrawled poetry on the corners of wrinkled pages of my school notebooks, ramblings vaguely resembling prose on the back of a napkin from a café  I had once found inspiration in or even the notes on my phone containing pieces of a plot yet to be assembled together but on its way to forming an entertaining story.

It’s nice to look back on the things that made me the writer I am now, even if it means going so far back as to be cringe-inducing.

When people ask me about the first story I ever wrote, my memory conjures up an illustrated short story I made for an ESL (English as a Second Language) class in the first grade. I should have known that I would grow up to be the hopeless lover of romance that I am now. All the signs were there.

Nevertheless, I still have an odd sense of pride whenever I think back to my first efforts as a writer. Even at six years of age, I delighted in bringing form and fruition to the story that played in my head. I didn’t know it then but writing was my calling.

Admittedly, The Prince and the Princess is no masterpiece. Heavily inspired by a favorite fairytale at the time (Jack and the Beanstalk), there are a lot of similarities between the two stories. But that’s how inspiration works, especially in a child’s mind, right? You consume something, start to play with the ideas in your mind before making it your own in some special way.

Of course, my first ‘official’ story was one very hilarious result.

Without further ado, I present to you my first work of art, exactly as it were (with the pictures that I could salvage of it).


The Prince and the Princess

By: Betty Manuel

Once upon a time there was a prince whose name was Eric. He was going to buy some beans.

He saw a man with beans. He went to the man and asked, “Can I have those beans?” The man didn’t answer, but he gave him the beans. The prince paid $3 to the man.

He went to the castle and threw the beans to the floor.

The next day he saw a big beanstalk!

He climbed the beanstalk and saw a castle just like his. He went in the castle and saw a princess.

He asked to the princess, “What’s your name?” The princess answered, “Princess Steffany.” And she asked, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Prince Eric.” So they became friends.

The next day another fairy came and told the king (princess Steffany’s father) to drink the magic potion.

She gave the potion to change the king’s mind. The fairy said, “It will never make you die.” So the king drank it. It changed his mind.

The day came for the marriage to begin. The king came into the castle and opened the door.

The king said, “Stop the marriage!” Princess Steffany was shocked.

But when the king was going to take Steffany to her room, Prince Eric said, “Steffany and I love each other.” When the king heard that, the spell was broken.

After the spell was broken, they married. They also had children and lived happily ever after.

THE END.

(A Six Year Old’s) Author Bio

Betty was born on 1992 1997. She likes to see cartoon, go on trips and play computer.

She likes her friend, her parents and herself.

until Summer.

Her name was Summer, and oh how she glowed, as if with the brilliance of a thousand suns coating every inch of her skin. Daylight would come and they would wonder if she brought it with her. With the undeniable bloom of the shy pink flourish in her cheeks. With the joyful, almost childlike skip in her steps.

She was Grace, she was Purity – a Goddess, worthy of ascension to a throne that any mortal man would dedicate his life to building if only for the promise of her coy, rose lips curling into that smile they thirsted for.

She noticed them all, each and every one among the crowd of foolish, fawning admirers blinded by her Beauty and Grace. The world ate her up like she was Goodness served on a platter. And why wouldn’t they, she mused, with bitterness on her tongue. Why wouldn’t they fall into the trap, mistake the stardust that started to shed from the roots of her golden hair for a by-product of the halo she was cursed to adorn?

Summer shone bright but it was in the darkness of Night that she found herself, in the specks of dust she crumbled into to be one with the shadows. With sleeves rolled up to her thin, trembling shoulders; her skirt hiked to reveal the pale moonlit whiteness of her thighs. They would see a Goddess bathed in beautiful silver, but only her eyes could discover what no one else’s dared to find.

Not the glow of the sun but the jet black poison of Demons and Sin, whispering to her through the tattoos on her blue-veined skin. They breathed into her life their provocative secrets, drugged her in temptation. They showed her: her life was not hers to live.

Daylight would grace her but the darkness would never leave.
And so, she withered.

Her soul would reach for every last inkling of life that the universe had to spare her in solace, for she knew of the promise of Destruction that awaited. The icy, unmerciful grips of the abyss swallowed her whole till there was nothing left to show of her color in this world.

Nothing, but the fading silhouette of a ghost, carried away by the autumn winds and into the nothingness of the winter that follows.

And all (their misguided Hope) would be forgotten.

Until the next Summer.

The Sound of Murder

It was just another routine morning in my dreary existence.

Working a desk job isn’t the most adventurous vocation in the world; that too for a programmer resigned to the mundane task of sitting in front of a computer screen flowing with endless characters. You would think twelve years of deciphering code might have helped me on the journey of breaking down the meaning of life itself and up until the night before, I would have fervently disagreed with that statement.

There was nothing remotely rejuvenating about my work. Gone were the days of youth where the idea of breaking down complex sequential patterns appealed to me. My life was now defined by a routine and exhausting monotony dictated by the technology that shaped our little world.

Boarding the tube to work that day, I figured it would be just like any other. I had consumed my mug of bitter black coffee, a bite of burnt toast and walked the daily fifteen-minute stretch to the nearest underground terminal. The skies were overcast with the same gloom and doom that had followed it for the past decade and I didn’t expect anything to change there. But something was certainly different; marginally so but different nonetheless.

For the first time, I was able to hear things around me in a way I hadn’t before. Things I’d always been surrounded by but never cared to really acknowledge. Like the voices of pedestrians float away as I descended the stairs to the underground. The sounds of hurried, impatient commuters that bumped their shoulders aggressively against mine took over that of the life above. My ears twitched upon hearing the dry, emotionless delivery of the automated dispensing machine. I realized I hadn’t heard the compassionate greeting of a ticket-seller wishing me a good day in years, or felt the warmth of a hand as I am given my ticket for the journey.

My observations grew with every second that passed and with it, a cold dread that started to seep into my core from the pits of my stomach. The people around me were walking stopwatches, too rushed by the throes of life to see what exactly it was they were missing.

Standing before the yellow line in wait of the underground carrier, my eyes uneasily cast glances to my left and right. On both sides, I was surrounded by people with their heads bowed, eyes glued to the surface of a lifeless screen, their sunken eyes absorbing valueless content. I waited for someone to break formation, even desperately hoped a single soul would put down their phone and simply turn to the person next to them and say the word ‘hi’. But no one thought to do that and my grip on my briefcase grew tighter as the truth dawned on me.

We were all living in a self-created, destructive bubble.

From that moment on, everything seemed to fall apart. The clickity-clack of smartphones being typed into magnified in my ears. At the office, the sounds of computer keyboards took over that of human contact. The silence enveloping the vast area of cubicles was deafening. I longed to hear someone break out of the technologically induced trance and have a real conversation. I wished to have a cup of coffee with a colleague and not spend our ten-minute break sitting next to each other, wordlessly skimming through our phones.

At what point of our fall into social obsession had we trapped ourselves in a pit of social exclusion? The thought was suffocating and as the day progressed, I waited for the moment I could return to the comfort of my home and disconnect myself from the world we had created. That day, I faced a truth I had been avoiding for far too long.

With the sound of every character being typed, every swipe down the screen or every selfie being clicked, humanity fades away as we collectively murder what little is left of it.