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Authors often draw their characters from real life. Sometimes the people in a story are a big jumble of people the author has met or seen on TV. The man on the bus, the woman at the corner store, an uncle or a friend.
It helps to think about your characters as real people. You need to know everything about them, not just what they look like, but how they think, what colour their eyes are, how they talk, whether they smell, everything!
When you know all about them, you can put them anywhere! Inside a volcano, on a river raft, in a space ship, it doesn’t matter, if you know your character you’ll know why they are there, how they’ll get out, what they are scared of.
Keep in mind your characters don’t doesn’t have to be completely consistent as people are full of contradictions. Think about some of the things you have done that surprised people because you felt like being a bit different. Your character might be like that too.
You may find you know them after writing just a few things down, or it may take a page of ideas before you really know them well.
A valuable tool when developing your characters is a Mind Map. Often used to work out all the details of a story, it can also be used to brainstorm the characterstics of your characters.
You can find worksheets related to this topic on the writing resources page.
Find a writing exercise to warm up first before you begin to write your story.