From the stories you have read so far, it is clear that for a plot to exist, it must have characters, or people created by the author. Although these people are fictional, they must be believable and arouse your sympathy or interest if the story is to hold your attention.
Every author, in his own particular way, uses certain techniques to bring his characters to life. He may describe the appearance and personality of a character through direct statement. This method describes the character, but does not usually render him fully alive in the reader’s mind.
Another way in which an author creates a character is by telling what other characters say about him, how they react to him, and what they think of him. But the most important and dramatic way of creating a memorable character is by showing him in action—being brave or selfish, kind or foolish—and revealing the man’s state of mind—his questions and dilemmas, how he thinks and feels.
All three techniques may be used to create a character, but the final test is whether the character is true to life. He may be strange or eccentric, but he must be a recognizable human being who resembles us in some way. To be convincing, a character must have an interesting combination of strength and weakness, good and bad.
To be believable, a character must fit in with the part of the world in which he lives. A cowboy from Wyoming should not speak like a Harvard professor; a Harvard professor should not dress like a sea captain. Further, a timid character should not suddenly become a hero unless the author has prepared the reader for this change. Otherwise the character is inconsistent.
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