Developing Believable Characters

By Denise Turney

creating believable fiction book characters

It’s long been said that if we readers don’t care about characters in a novel, we won’t continue reading a story. As a passionate book reader and author of six novels, I agree with the saying. To get into the heart of a novel, to tap into, explore and savor the richest flow out of a story, readers must really care about what is going to happen to the main characters in a book.

Create Believable Book Characters

Admittedly, I’ve read novels where one or more minor characters upstaged main characters. I’m not exactly sure how this happens. Perhaps this occurs when authors relax and become freer while developing minor characters, people they presume will have less impact on the story’s outcome.

When this occurs, minor characters can, unbeknownst to authors, become the story’s main characters. Signs that this has occurred may be when readers tell authors how much they love minor characters or when readers ask authors to create a sequel about minor characters. Those characters, the ones readers want more of, are the foundation of a good story.

So, how do novelists create believable characters?

As a book author, an easy way is to achieve this is to consider people in your waking life who stand out to you, demanding your and other people’s attention. Shape powerful components of these people’s personalities into your book’s characters. For example, you could take your aunt’s strong opinions, blend them with a cousin’s quick temper and add a spice of a friend’s stylish fashion sense to create a book character. This worked wonderfully for me while creating my novels Portia, Spiral and Love Pour Over Me.

More Ways to Develop Believable Novel Characters

You can also design a sketch of your characters. When doing this, add enough background data (e.g. birthplace, age, family background, interests, physical experience goals, career) to characters to bring them alive for readers, to make the characters feel real to book readers. After you fill in the background information for characters, start working on characters’ personality traits, habits, quirks, etc.

To get a feel for characters, especially major characters, consider having characters keep a journal or write a letter (or email) to a friend. This can help reveal hidden details about characters, making it easier for you to flesh the characters out. Although I didn’t use this technique while developing Love Pour Over Me, I did use it to further shape Tammy Tilson while creating my mystery novel, Spiral.

Finally, after you start writing your novel make sure you develop believable dialogue for your book’s characters. It’s important that you do this for both major and minor characters. Dialogue helps with story pacing. It also reveals details about book characters. As a tip, allow characters in novels to speak with accents and perhaps use slang that’s relevant for the time period your story is set in. This is an element I had to pay particular attention to in my novel, Love Pour Over Me, especially while developing Raymond Clarke’s roommate Patrick, a man with a gregarious personality who hails from Mexico.

Thank you for reading my blog. To learn what happens to Raymond, Brenda and the other characters in Love Pour Over Me, hop over to, B&, and get your copy of Love Pour Over Me today. And again I say – Thank You!