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  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

Why You Should Write Your Story Characters Based Off People You Know

Picking Character Traits

Over the last several months, I've been slowly writing my way through my first full length novel. Not only that, but an entire trilogy.

It's the first time I've been getting to dive deeper into character traits than I normally would in my short stories. Developing a character is much harder than I had originally intended let alone multiple characters. So how am I making it easier on myself when it comes to writing these characters?


I'm using people I know and their traits to fill out my characters.

Now what does this mean?

Well, by 'know', I technically mean people I run into on a daily basis, or people I watch on TV or in YouTube videos. As I watch or talk to them, if I notice something unique in how they talk, look, or act I make a mental note.

Then, at the end of the day, I go home and write about it. Sometimes it's one word but sometimes it could be an entire page.

I specifically have an entire notebook dedicated to these items allowing me to easily reference them when needed.

Using this exercise, I'm able to picture my own characters as more rounded people often taking the traits I've listed and cross-referencing them to see if my character would display this trait or look.

Overall, this has allowed my characters to feel like real people readers could relate to.

If you would like to have your own notebook of personality traits, looks, or actions I highly recommend creating one. Here are some examples I've written down that may help you get started:

  • Nose tipped red no matter the season

  • Saying "bye,bye!" instead of just 'bye!'

  • Clumpy mascara so thick it looks like she's squinting

  • Speaks as if there are marbles in mouth due to insecurity of crooked teeth

  • Whisky grey hairs at the age of 24

  • A weak handshake versus someone who squeezes too hard

Now this exercise isn't just limited to people you watch or have talked to once or twice. You can use people you know in real life as well. But if you want your character to stand out a bit more than the average person, I would highly recommend avoiding writing everything based off that one person.

Tell me in the comments below how you like to flesh out your characters! Are there certain methods you like to use? Don't forget to subscribe to get the latest on the blog.

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