An intricate weave of qualities comprise the fabric of human character. Our innate dispositions, circumstances and daily choices entwine to shape our identities. Since real people have complex personalities, realistic characters must demonstrate them, too. Several facets work together to sculpt a three-dimensional figure on the pages of a novel.

The good, the bad, and the truth. The capacity for extraordinary good and tremendous depravity dwells within each person. No human life reflects the purity of either extreme. Fictional heroes and villains should reflect a history of emotional motivations and choices sculpting their current perspective. A good story begins with a raw-edged protagonist whose character transforms along an arc. Great stories also introduce villains and key supporters whose personalities have evolved.

…you can sculpt such realistic characters your readers will swear they’ve met them in person.

She has a great personality. Rendering a physical description paints the audience into a scene, but relating your protagonist’s essence captures readers by the heart. Vivid characters have personality types. Sketch Myers-Briggs or DISC profiles for the prominent residents in your novel.

Dysfunction and disorder—we can relate. Consider the prominence of trauma and mental health diagnoses in reality when crafting your fictional world. Readers often have personal experience with trauma and disorders, so inaccuracies will glare from the page. Don’t allow fear to restrain you from rising to the artistic challenge, however. With a little research and consultation, you can sculpt such realistic characters your readers will swear they’ve met them in person.

Always a little sketchy. You won’t narrate each detail of your character sketches in the novel, but profiles offer fine-tip accuracy to the portraits you paint in each scene. Explore the psychological dynamics between individuals. What prompts them to respond to one another in specific ways? Develop consistent reaction patterns. How do the protagonist and antagonist cope with pain? How would each character respond to a crisis, and why?

Characters sculpted with psychological depth infuse your story with power. As you craft dimension into each psyche, protagonists and antagonists will rise from their pages to captivate the imagination of your readers. Get inside your characters’ heads and make them unforgettable.


Meet the Author

Wife, mom, and latte junkie, Tina has won more than a dozen writing awards, including FCWC’s 2013 Writer of the Year. She enjoys writing nonfiction and speculative fiction while helping clients optimize their lives through her online coaching business, Divine Encouragement, LLC. Inspirational speaker and mentor with Word Weavers International, she loves to bring encouraging messages through spoken and written words. Come visit her for a virtual cup of java at and