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  • Dianne McCartney

Adding Color to your Characters

How to make your characters come to life.



1. Don’t make the good guys too pure. They won’t be believable. Feel free to give your protagonist a bad habit. It makes it easier for us to identify with him (or her).


2. Let us really see your characters, not just their height and hair color, but the wrinkles around their eyes or that they limp when they’re tired. And don’t just dump the description in one place, weed it in throughout your manuscript.


3. Your character’s dialogue should ring true. Someone from Canada (like me) tends to enunciate their words more clearly than someone from the South, where they tend to drag their words out.


4. Now we’re getting really personal, but does your character have body odor or wear really strong perfume? Incorporate a sense of smell when you can. For years, I often smelled like horse manure and hay because I worked in a stable.


5. Use a character’s clothing to add better visuals. A model might wear a dress by Chanel, but you would more likely find a teacher in a generic cotton skirt and blouse, at least in the classroom.


Question of the day: Who is your favorite character in your own writing or someone else’s and why?

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