Today we’re going to talk about how to create a character that resonates with readers. Why? Well, dear writer, sheltered as you are by the glass screen that is your desktop/laptop/tablet/mobile device, you can’t see the state I’m in. So I’ll tell you. Imagine this: the darkest place you’ve ever been. Like, literally dark, but also figuratively dark at the same time. Void. The sound of crying. The sound of laughter. I think I’ve gone mad. More darkness. Then, some light. I’m pretty sure my cat is on the chair next to me. Judging me. More void. Until, I throw my pen against the wall and contemplate the nature of my existence and all of reality.


No, just kidding. Everything is perfectly fine. It’s not like I spent the last four weeks trying to create a character, only to realize that it’s an exercise in futility and I’m a failure as a human being. No. That would be melodramatic. The fact that there are tons of pages in my notebook featuring a character who is as memorable as the off-brand candy that your neighbors give out every Halloween is irrelevant. Truly.


The point: don’t make the same mistakes I made, dear writer. Read on, and learn some techniques to develop memorable characters that people care about.


Click through + get the free character sheet! 10 *essential* questions to ask to figure out the heart of your character. Writing advice | character sheet | how to create a character | writing tips | free writing worksheets



My name is Liz, & my main character has a problem


I’m sure you’ve had those moments when writing a character when you realize that your character has less personality than a block of wood. Take comfort in the fact that we’ve all been there and there is still hope. Maybe you realized something was off with your character when you did character building exercises. That’s what usually gets me. When my main character says her biggest flaw is that “she cares too much,” I know I have a problem.


Legit: the my-biggest-weakness-is-that-I-care-too-much doesn’t fool job interviewers. Why would you expect it to fool your readers? They’re smart people. Likewise, the character who is so popular he’s like a walking magnet that attracts humans is also weak. But-honestly-guys-I’m-like-so-uncool-and-dorky-why-do-you-even-like-me?). No. Just no.

So, what do you do when this happens?


I can only speak for myself, but whenever my characters start fading into blandness, I ask myself ten questions I came up with. Luckily for you, I complied them all into a handy character sheet. It’s not the typical character sheet that ask for physical descriptions and their second favorite color. This template asks questions designed to get to the heart of who your character is. Click the button below to get insight into your character with a free copy of this character sheet.


Click here to grab your free copy of the essential character sheet!


Create a character before an archetype


Learn the Lingo! important vocab



Even if you are unfamiliar with this term, I guarantee that you know what an archetype is. In fact, I guarantee that your four-year-old nephew knows what an archetype is. Archetypes are the typical and traditional characters, plots, settings, themes, and symbols found in 99% of all stories. For example, some common archetypes for characters are the Hero the Damsel in Distress, and the Wise Old Man. An example of an archetypal situation is the Quest (the Hero needs to accomplish something to restore order) and the Battle Between Good and Evil. Although it’s easy to see how archetypes play out in fairy tales and fantasy stories, know that they are present across all genres of writing. Bart Simpson is a classic Trickster character. Likewise, John Wayne plays the traditional Hero character in almost all of his movies.


Don’t get me wrong, archetypes and tropes are prevalent in literature because they work. There’s nothing wrong with them per se. However, when you plan out your novel, instead of chopping your character’s traits up so that they fit like puzzle pieces into a pre-created story structure, think of them as living, breathing humans/elves/animals/ogres/whatever. In all honesty, it’s okay if parts of your plot or characters are recognizable to readers, but you don’t want to write a novel that readers can predict from the first page. Try to twist the trope and put a new spin on an old idea. I mean, look at Shrek. What made that story successful was that it turned every archetype on its head. So, don’t be afraid to experiment or try something new.




The things that make a memorable character


The five most important ingredients necessary to create a character that readers care about are:


  1. Strengths: What types of things does your character excel at? What positive things about their personality can can others rely on them for?
  2. Weaknesses: What types of things does your character struggle with? Remember that, in real life, people have minor and major weaknesses. A (super) minor weakness might be the inability to whistle. Whereas, a major weakness might be commitment issues.
  3. Values: What are the rules and standards they set for themselves? Where is the “line-they-will-never-cross”? What do they believe in? Whether or not you tell your readers their specific and personal rules, every character should have a “rule book” they follow. Sometimes, authors straight-up divulge their character’s rules–that’s totally okay too. Think Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation or Kakashi from Naruto. Sure, these characters had their secrets, but we, as an audience, always knew exactly where they stood when it came to the standards they set for themselves.
  4. Motivation: What drives them? What are the things/people/emotions that spur them into action?
  5. Goals: Goals run parallel to motivation. If you struggle to differentiate between the two, think of it this way: goals are the end point where your character wants to be, and motivation pushes your character from where they start. Most of the time motivation takes place in the present and goals take place in the future. Motivation is the motions that characters take to achieve their goals. Goals are their dreams. For example, your character works a brain-numbing, 9-5 job. His goal is to start a band. His motivation is the fear that he will die at his desk having accomplished nothing in life.


It’s okay for your character’s goals and motivations to shift through the course of your story. The change characters undergo is what makes them memorable. In fact, The Girl with all the Gifts by M. R. Carey explained the nature of motivation and goals (dreams) in the novel itself. It’s one of my all-time favorite quotes:


“Melanie thinks: when your dreams come true, your true has moved. You’ve already stopped being the personal who had the dreams, so it feels like a weird echo of something that already happened to you a long time ago.”



To create a character that’s multidimensional and not flat, have some of these “ingredients” be contradictory to each other. You want to create a character in conflict. For example, if you create a character with the goal of standing up for others, then consider cowardice as one of their weaknesses. Right there, you’ve created internal conflict. If you create a character that values honesty above all else, put them in a situation where they need to lie. Maybe Honest Harry lost his job and he has no other option to feed his ailing mother but to run cons and email scams.


In real life, people are contradictions. So, add some contradictions and conflicts to their personalities when you create a character and give them some real life.


Remember: you don’t have a story if you don’t have conflict. One trick that works for me is that I treat my characters like I treat my Sims in The Sims game (without the constant killing-them-off-whenever-I-get-bored). First, always ask yourself: how can I make things harder for my character? How can I make their lives more difficult? Then, you’ll need to solve some of these issues in your story’s resolution.



Once you figure out your character’s motivation, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and values, you will be all set to move on to my character sheet. Click below to get your free copy. Most character sheets ask you to answer 879 questions about your character. Personally, I always found those overwhelming and a massive source of procrastination. Therefore, I promise that my character sheet has only the essential questions necessary to create a character that readers care about. Answer these questions, and you’ll have a clear sense of who your character is.


Click here to grab your free copy of the essential character sheet!


What questions do you find most important when you create a character?



  • Stuck with no plot? Click through for 6 creative thinking exercises to help brainstorm a novel idea in 10 minutes. Have more productive brainstorming sessions. Writing advice | how to brainstorm a novel | how to write a novel | writing tips
    Brainstorm a Novel Idea in 10 Minutes
  • Click through and learn the things that go on readers' and writers' shopping lists. Find the best books to inspire your creativity and the tools to supercharge your writing environment. Writing tips | writing advice | writing tools | amazon | book recommendations | writing tools
    Take A Peak At Readers' and Writers' Shopping Lists
  • Task Management System | Productivity Tips | Time management hacks | Make time for writing after a long day at work with these productivity tips. Free Time Tracer worksheet that will help you find time to achieve your writing goals.
    Task Management System: How To Write When You're Tired
  • Find a famous author whose advice & quotes about writing & living a creative life speak to you. Find someone who can relate to the struggle of living creatively. Writing advice | quotes| motivation | writing help | how to write a novel | writing inspiration
    Advice From Famous Authors That Will Raise You Up
  • Click through and tackle the easily misunderstood "write what you know" writing advice. Learn some strategies to overcome writing anxiety. Free writing workbook download included. Writing tips | writing advice | how to write what you know | how to write a novel
    Writing with Confidence: How to Write What You Know
  • What to look for when giving feedback on writing. How to be better at receiving writing. Free editing checklist and the feedback sandwich. Writing tips | revision | writing critique | feedback | self-editing
    What You Need To Know About Giving And Receiving Feedback
  • Click through and learn to write a book readers can't put down. Here's the different types of conflict found in books readers obsess over. Writing tips | how to write a novel | writing conflict | book recommendations | books for writers
    7 Types of Conflict Found in Books that Readers Obsess Over
  • Improve your writing by learning active and passive voice. Includes a free cheat sheet with a simple trick to identify passive voice. Writing advice | writing tips | improve writing skills | how to write | grammar help | grammar tips
    What You Need To Know To Learn Active And Passive Voice
  • Click through to learn the most cost effective way to improve your writing. Download my free critical reading worksheet and start improving your writing today! Writing tips | writing worksheet | critical reading | how to improve writing
    Critical Reading: The Best Way To Improve Your Writing If You're Broke
  • Read like a writer with these literary devices! Made easy with examples from Harry Potter. Click through to learn 7 of the most popular literary devices you can use in your writing. Get your free copy of a glossary with 45+ literary devices and many examples from other books. Writing tips | critical reading | Harry Potter | writing techniques
    7 Popular Literary Devices To Use In Your Novel
  • 5 Creative Exercises You Need To Eliminate Writer's Block
  • How to find the perfect writing buddy to get feedback on your writing. Free guidelines included for productive and positive interactions. Writing tips | writing advice | writing feedback | writing critique
    How To Connect With The Perfect Writing Buddy
  • Click through to learn editing tips that will ensure readers connect with your writing to the fullest extent. Download your free copy of the list of common filter words to edit out of your novel. Writing tips | editing | revision | edit a novel | improve writing | podcast | filter words | writing downloads | free resources
    Episode 02: 3 Editing Tips You Need To Know To Write Perfectly
  • Click through to learn the most important bit of advice that all writers should know before they start writing a novel. Writing advice | get help writing a book | write a novel | writing a first draft | write a story | Creative writing
    Get Help Writing A Book: What You Need To Know Before You Start
  • Click here to grab your free copy of the essential Character Sheet!
    What You Need To Create A Character Readers Will Die For [Character Sheet Included]
  • Best Writing advice for new and beginner writers. What I wish I learned about writing in high school. Writing tips | Writing advice | how to write | motivation | aspiring writer | write a novel
    Essential Writing Advice You Need To Know
  • Do you want an affordable, quick, and easy writing app to proofread your writing before you publish it? Click through for an honest review of the #1 Grammar checking and proofreading app. Writing tips | best writing software | grammar help
    Grammarly: Complete Your Novel with the Best Writing App
  • Click through to get the best advice and anxiety help for writers. Grab your free writing worksheet download and build your confidence as a writer. Writing advice | overcome anxiety | writing help | improve writing skills
    Here Is The Best Anxiety Help For Writers
  • Examples of the most common dialogue mistakes make by new writers. Click through for foolproof solutions for fixing these common mistakes. Writing tips | writing advice | how to write a novel | how to write dialogue | writing dialogue help
    Forget this Bad Advice about Writing Dialogue that makes You Look like an Amateur
  • Click through and learn two killer brainstorming activities that will end writer’s block and help you develop your novel and story ideas. Learn how to turn a half-formed story idea into a fully-developed plot. Writing advice | brainstorm a novel | write a novel | brainstorm a creative idea
    Brainstorming Activities That Will Help Develop Your Novel
  • Click through to see the three best books about writing you should read. These books about writing are written by successful authors and featured in countless writing courses. They will help you grow and thrive as a writer. Writing tips | book recommendations | books about writing | learn to write | how to write a novel
    3 Amazing Books About Writing You Should Read Right Now
  • One way to get your writing out there is to submit it to short story competitions. Most writing competitions have entry fees. Click through to find out what to do if you have writing ready for submitting, but don’t want to dole out cash. Writing tips | publish writing | publishing help | writing competitions | self-publish
    3 Free To Enter Short Story Competitions
  • Improve descriptions in your writing. Click through for a free worksheet. The biggest misconception about descriptive writing. Writing tips | descriptive writing | writing worksheets | how to write descriptions
    How to Improve Your Descriptive Writing [Worksheet Included]
  • How to learn grammar without a workbook. Practical, real-world ways to learn grammar. Useful tips and tricks to help you learn grammar. Writing tips | grammar help | how to improve grammar | writing skills
    Grammar Workbook Alternatives: 4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing
  • Click through to listen to storytelling tips and writing tutorial podcast Just Wondering Writers. Take control of your writing education and develop the creative writing skills you need to craft captivating stories with Just Wondering Writers. Join Liz Rufiange as she breaks down the stages of the writing process and answers all of your “I was just wondering…” questions about writing.
    NEW PODCAST! Just Wondering Writers: Episode 01: The Most Important Thing You Need To Know Before You Start Your Novel
  • Welcome to Write Whale! Your One-Stop Writing Guide Resource
  • How to achieve your writing goals this year. 5 ways to stick to your resolutions and stay motivated all year long. Writing advice | writing tips | motivation | achieve goals | goal setting | productive
    The 5 Best Practices to Achieve Your Writing Goals
  • Four useful tips to overcome procrastination to be more productive and get stuff done. Writing tips | be more productive | overcome procrastination | writing advice
    4 Life-Changing Ways to Overcome Procrastination
  • Click through to learn how to use this narrative technique to get rid of lousy opening scenes and the shaky first page of your novel idea. Learn with examples from books, movies, and TV shows that audiences love. Writing tips | how to start a novel | how to write a novel | writing techniques
    In Medias Res: How to Eliminate Horrible First Pages
Get your free Character Sheet by entering your info!

Get your free Character Sheet by entering your info!

You are half way there! Please complete this form and click the button below to gain instant access to your free resource.

Success! Check your email--your character sheet is on the way!

Get your free Descriptive Writing & Imagery Worksheet by entering your info!

Get your free Descriptive Writing & Imagery Worksheet by entering your info!

You are half way there! Please complete this form and click the button below to gain instant access to your free resource.

Success! Check your email--your imagery worksheet is on the way!

Ready to write captivating stories?


Join countless others and get access to my free library of worksheets, e-books, and resources for writers.

You have Successfully Subscribed!