Writers' Treasure Creative Writing Tips,Fiction Writing How to pick out a character for your novel

How to pick out a character for your novel

This is a guest article by James Thompson. If you want to submit a guest article of your own be sure to read the guest article guidelines.

Believe it or not, but the profession of your novel characters play a major role in making your novel a big hit. Using clichéd professions such as doctor, lawyer, detective, or an actor won’t suffice — unless it’s the only relevant choice. The profession of the characters, especially the main character, is what sets the scene for your book. Readers prefer reading something “fresh”.

How often do you read about a wizarding profession? (I’m sure we all clearly remember the famous books with those characters). All right, these aren’t all technically “professions”, but they set the scene and add more flavor to the character. They make a character more memorable.

A character’s profession affects the entire novel. It pinpoints to a personality type.

For example, what kind of a personality would you expect a detective to have? Clever, unsocial, and offensive at times? How about a rich guy? Bold, clever, and slightly arrogant? The profession also affects the plot. Since the profession forms the personality and “role” of a character, it’s bound to alter the plot and the way the character acts and reacts in it.

I have stressed enough about the importance of the characters’ profession. Now, let’s move on to how to pick out a suitable career for them. Relax, they are only characters! They won’t complain about freedom of choice.

  • The character needs to be memorable: It’s important to try to make your character’s profession unique. Using clichéd professions are no good because there really isn’t anything new or different about the character or the book. It’s just another common character anyone will read about in any other common book.

Aim to make your character’s profession memorable. You can do that by simply adding details or “flavor” to the job. For example, a detective who works on “cases” is pretty clichéd. How about newbie detective with a psychology background, working solely on cases that involve psychopaths? That adds a zing to it, right?

  • Make the character believable: Not everyone will be able to write about a strange, unusual profession such as wizardry. The absurd profession might not suit the story type, your writing style, or the pre-conceived plot.

Novelists should also be concerned about how realistic the character will seem to the readers. If the story is a realistic fiction, it’s best to avoid ridiculous characters and professions that don’t exist in the real world.

On the other hand, if you are writing a general fiction story, an absurd and unrealistic profession is perfectly acceptable as long as you stick to the descriptions you have given earlier on about that character and his/her profession.

  • Make it match: The character’s profession should match the story type, setting, and theme of the book. You most likely already had those in mind before you started.

For example, if you plan on writing a fantasy fiction, your character will probably include mythical creatures such as goblins, trolls, giants, or unicorns. The main character will possibly possess magic and have a strange profession in which he/she can utilize a power.

If you are writing a science fiction novel that involves travelling through space, spacecraft, space stations, and different galaxies in a distant future time, your characters would have a role suitable to that time and genre. For example, your main character could be an astronaut, a hero on a mission, or even an advanced alien on a mission to “conquer the universe”.

An adventure fiction theme, on the other hand, would have realistic characters with ordinary professions.

  • Use it for plot twist: Sometimes, the profession doesn’t have to match the story type or theme at all. Typically, one would say that a story that talks about healing should involve characters with medical professions. However, some authors and screenwriters choose to write an ironic character that doesn’t match at all, therefore standing out.

Other times, a profession can be used to create a twist in the plot. This is usually true for novels with a dramatic theme. A character could be shown doing something they don’t enjoy at all. They are bored of their ordinary life and their ordinary profession.

The author would then twist the story around when the character suddenly gets an opportunity to do what she always wanted to do. The personal growth and development of the character and their profession would signify the theme to “strive hard”, “have hope” and “follow your dreams” perhaps.

Editor’s Note:

These are some excellent tips for career choosing of characters. The plot twist idea may be old now, but it still works brilliantly. At least… until someone gets an even better idea. Maybe in this article’s very comments section perhaps?

James Thompson is an experienced and passionate writer having diverse expertise in education, career and technology. He provides Essay Help along with his team of dedicated writers to assist students from all standards.

One thought on “How to pick out a character for your novel”

  1. Great article. The choice of one’s career reflects his personality same is the case with writing. I like to write about human relationships.Choosing a career for your character makes him more predictable. How about contrasting his nature with the nature of his work? For example A rich but humble guy, etc

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