Monday, August 15, 2011

Creating Believable Characters, a Guest Post by Ben Wallace

Hello, everyone!

Today's guest is author Ben Wallace. He's going to talk about creating believable characters in fiction. So please read, and if you like what he has to say, check out his inspiring, informative blog!

Creating Believable Characters
By Ben Wallace

Creating believable characters is critical to good fiction. Characters are the bedrock, the foundation, on which your entire story rests. If your characters aren’t believable, your story won’t be believable. Here are some tips on how to create believable characters.

Physical description:
Don’t give your character four arms. Who’s going to believe that? Go out on the street right now and tell me how many people you see with four arms. Zero. Right? Four arms may make your character a better combatant or really good at stocking vending machines, but it’s just not very real. Extra toes, fingers or nipples are acceptable.

Note to Fantasy, sci-fi, and cyborg-lit authors: Load ‘em up.

My neighbor recently told me that he had a hobby. You know what? I believed him. Because, having a hobby is believable. That being said, you must make it a believable hobby. Whittling, guitar, outdoor recreation – all believable. ABBA album collector or Right Said Fred enthusiast? Not so much.

Mannerisms are great and believable. Everybody has mannerisms. Just look at how people walk. Everybody has a different walk. Some people even look like they worked on it and practiced in front of a mirror. Some people swagger. Some people strut. Some creep. Some hop (if they just stubbed their toe). But, remember, if you give them a mannerism, you have to stay consistent with it.

Randomly levitating while in deep concentration would be an unbelievable mannerism, however. Your characters shouldn’t levitate unless they have the power to levitate.

Naming a character can be difficult. A cool sounding name like Blade, or Wolf, or Trigger Finger McGee will be hard to swallow if it’s not a nickname. A good way to find a believable name is to look at what Hollywood stars are naming their kids and then never give your character that name. A fake sounding name like that can make your character unbelievable.

Also, don’t name your character Thad. I don’t have a really good reason except that I knew a Thad once, and the guy was kind of a jerk.

Fantasy authors, if you’ve created a new world, the naming conventions may be totally different.

Believable people have pets. Dogs – okay. Cats – okay. Ferrets – um, okay? Griffins – totally unbelievable.

Again, fantasy authors, knock yourself out. Actually, you folks can pretty much get away with anything.

About Me: Benjamin Wallace is the author of Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors, the #3 top rated comic fiction book on Amazon, and the action and adventure comedy Tortugas Rising. And, yes, he thinks he’s being funny.

You can learn more at


  1. Great post! I agree, Thad is a terrible character name. Especially if Thad is a levitating, four armed, Right Said Fred enthusiast!

  2. Thad was a levitating, four armed, Right Said Fred fan. It's why I didn't like him.