Okay, there are some exceptions to this rule. We’ll discuss that later. But for now let’s stick to the norm. They have to be believable.
What Does It Mean to Be Believable?
It seems strange to say that fiction characters have to be believable. They are fictitious after all. That is very true. But the reader has to be able to see the character as really acting and feeling everything presented on the pages. They have to believe that the character would do that one action. It has to fit their...character.
Would it be believable for Frodo in The Lord of the Rings to be selfish or betray a friend? No, of course not.That would not be believable. The reader has to believe that the character as he/she is written would do or say what you have them do. If they can’t, you’ve lost the reader.
Believable and Still be Fiction?
It sounds ridiculous to write a fiction story and have believable characters. I mean, it is fiction, right? That is true, but the believable is not about believing they can do what they do. It is believing that that one particular character can and should do what they do.
I cannot believe that a character can shoot fire from their hands because it cannot be really done without special effects. I can believe that the one particular character can because it fits their profile.
Fiction allows the writer to create anything and anybody they want. There are no limits. There shouldn’t be. The only limits are what the readers impose. If it is hard for readers to see a scene, then it is not believable. They have to accept the fictitious scene as real for the world it exists in.
Tips to Make a Believable Character
So how do you make a character believable? I mean they are or they aren’t, right? Actually, you as the author create them. You breathe life into them. If they are to be believable, you have to create them as such. Make them real for your readers.
Make Them Real
The reader has to see the character in their mind. Just like the man behind the counter when they order a burger, the character in the story has to appear in their imagination. Give them real feelings and real actions. How? Look around you.
Use Real People as Models
Making your characters real isn’t all that difficult. All you have to do is use real people. Seriously, you can look at the people you work with and get body language, words, personalities, and more. Even family get togethers and help you create believable characters. Strangers on the bus or train or even waiting in the airport. You have so many models at your disposal.