Building characters is one of the most challenging aspects of writing a novel. There are many good advice out there; create characters that are different from one another, create characters with opposites within themselves, that have dark secrets or something extremely special about them, have interesting interactions with friends, coworkers or family members and so on.
All of these are important and very good advice but there is one thing I feel is even more important, you have to like your characters. You’re the person that will spend the most time with them. You will be writing about their lives, conversations, creating their whole universe and controlling their fate. You have the power to bring them to life and you have the power to sweep that life away.
When I was creating my individual characters the first thing I kept in mind was surrounding my writing with people I would like to get to know. I generally like different kind of people so it wasn’t hard to create various characters with their own little quirks and personalities. My main character, Alexander the psychiatrist, has a carelessness about him that I find very appealing but he is still extremely smart and insightful and with those qualities he makes up for sometimes being a bit of a goof.
Julia on the other hand has a much deeper aspect to her. In the first book I introduce a hidden secret in her past that will be revealed in later books. That secret is a big part of her and it influences some of her decisions and behavior, such as her despise for psychiatrists. Many people may view Julia to be a bit cold and even call her a hard ass but I am very fond of her as a person in my book, she is smart and extremely careful in her work and she likes to obey to rules in the field and she therefore balances beautifully against Alexanders more flamboyant traits.
Hercules and Eric are the other part of the police team and they are also quite interesting, in my opinion. Hercules is homosexual and I deliberately created him in that way. As a writer I find it important to address all aspects of society and I therefore found it extremely important to have a person with different sexual preferences from what we are perhaps used to reading about. He is traditional but yet very nontraditional in his ways. He likes fashion but doesn’t mind getting dirty in the field or putting his hand into a half dissected body. He’s romantic, he’s fun loving and he’s very likable.
Eric is the ex-military brute that loves his giant meals. He has a psychic grandmother that he loves dearly and in my next book I will be introducing his fluffy little Pomeranian dog that he takes such good care of. He is a sweet heart but still so muscular and so vulgar in his movements and behavior. He’s a walking contrast but gives the story such an interesting flair that it wouldn’t work as well without him.
All of my characters are important to my story. Once I have created them I get to know them more and more and I start really liking them. They become the writers friends and often I can’t wait to sit down to see what my friends will be up to in the next chapter. I am experiencing as I go because even though I created these people I still can’t control everything they do or they would become inconsistent in their behavior. It is therefore extremely important to have a good relationship with your characters or eventually you might end up killing them off for no good reason.