Characters as fascinating as real people? No easy trick!

Continuing with our “truth is stranger than fiction” thread, I find that one of the hardest writing feats is creating characters who are as interesting as real people. I mean to say, people are fascinating aren’t they? Contrary, non sensical, a mixture of petty grievances and truly noble acts of selflessness. Stephen Harper, quoted by Writer’s Digest online says, “Always keep firmly in mind that people read any novel, no matter the genre, to find out what is going to happen to a fascinating set of characters. And no, throwing something like magic into an otherwise dull-as-dirt character won’t make her fascinating.”

Real life people are rarely as dull as dirt. They may have mundane jobs, common struggles and ordinary circumstances, but there is always something deep down that makes them original and compelling. Dig deep down, and you’ll find enough material to fill a novel.

Here are a few fascinating facts about some real people you may know.

James Earl Jones had such a severe stutter as a youth, he remained nearly silent for eight years.

Jane Goodall’s father was a race car driver. As a child she put a supply of earth and worms under her pillow to see how they would get along there.

When Alfred Hitchcock was five years old, his strict father decided to teach him a lesson to correct misbehavior. He sent him to the police station with a note. Upon reading the note, the officer locked young Alfred up for a little while, scaring him so badly he developed a lifelong fear of the police.

Fascinating, don’t you think? These bits are so real they just couldn’t be made up! Who do you think are the most fascinating people you know? Why do you find them interesting? Comments get you entered in the July drawing for an Amazon gift card. mysterious eyes

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bn100 on July 27, 2013 at 3:01 am

    think everyone’s kind of fascinating since no one’s the same



  2. Posted by bethrachg on July 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Great post! I’ve been pondering this very thing only maybe from a different perspective. I want to create characters with interesting and unusual jobs and yet make them relate-able to ordinary people. No matter what genre, or who characters are, or what they do that makes them interesting, there still has to be something to connect them to readers. And that isn’t so easy.



    • You’re right, Beth. Finding an interesting job, that’s not too out there, is a trick too. Or I suppose it could work to have an ordinary job, and be caught up in extraordinary circumstances. What’s your genre?

      Dana Mentink

      Christian Fiction Author ACFW Book of the Year finalist Betrayal in the Badlands, a RT Reviewer’s Choice Winner



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