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Five Unmissable Characterization Hacks Every Writer Needs to Know

“You have to understand your characters,” my college professor once told me. But between you and me, for the longest time, I didn’t. What was the secret sauce, the magic elixir that turned plain Jane into Jane Eyre?

But after years (and some inevitable rejections), I stumbled upon these unmissable hacks. And, dear reader, because I adore you, I’m spilling the beans.

Hack #1: Let Them Have Secrets

Everyone has skeletons in their closet. Or, in my Aunt Patty’s case, a collection of porcelain dolls (equally terrifying). Giving your character a secret not only makes them more intriguing but pushes the narrative forward. What are they hiding? Will the other characters find out? The suspense is killing me already!

Hack #2: The Quirk Quotient

My neighbor, Mr. Higgins, has a peculiar habit of watering his plants at precisely 3:13 AM. Why? I haven’t the foggiest. But it sure makes him memorable! Quirks – little idiosyncrasies, habits, or obsessions – can make your characters unforgettable.

Hack #3: Dreams and Nightmares

Dreams are windows to one’s soul, while nightmares are the shadows lurking within. Letting readers peek into your character’s deepest desires and fears makes them relatable, vulnerable, and incredibly human.

Hack #4: Friends and Frenemies

Judge a character by the company they keep. Friends can amplify a character’s traits, while frenemies can highlight their flaws or challenges. Think Sherlock and Watson. Now think Sherlock and Moriarty. Dynamics, anyone?

Hack #5: The “Why” Behind the “What”

It’s not enough for your character to act a certain way. Dive into the psychology of it. WHY did they make that choice? Often, the backstory or underlying motivation can be juicier than the action itself.

There you have it, folks! Five hacks to transform your stick-figure characters into multi-dimensional beings. Remember, knowing your character is akin to knowing yourself. Explore them, challenge them, and above all, love them – warts and all!

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