Narrative Writing


Describe Your Hero's Character

Most students don't pay enough attention to character. Their stories are full of people who do things, but the people themselves seem like interchangeable parts. There is nothing which distinguishes one from another.

To avoid this mistake, be sure to give your main character at least three things:

  1. full name
  2. character trait
  3. occupation

Pay special attention to the character trait. Is your hero loud, shy, confident, timid, nervous, greedy, or hard-working? Then make sure your reader knows it! And don't wait too long.

If possible, insert some clues about your hero's personality within the first paragraph. Here is one example:

The year was 3020. I was living on the planet Xanadu. My boss called me by my full name—Rory Houston—but most everyone else called me "Mouse". I worked the night shift on one of the clean-up crews at the Intergalactic Space Port. Every day, I arrived at work just before midnight, timing my arrival so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone. People made me nervous.

That's not exactly prize-winning prose, but you have to admit: I've succeeded in giving you all lot of information right away. Your first few paragraphs should strive to do the same thing.

This kind of paragraph is often called exposition, because it explains what the reader needs to know in order to enjoy your story.

Key Point: A character is more than just a name. Give all your characters (and especially your hero) a personality.