How to Create Characters for Short Stories
How much do you really need to know about your characters when writing a short story.
When writing a novel you might need to know everything that has happened to your characters from birth but is this really necessary in a short story?
Why would you want to know where and when your character was born? Unless they were adopted and searching for their birthplace.
Why would you need to know about their family if you were writing about their day in the office? You wouldn’t unless someone was at home waiting patiently (or impatiently) for them.
Why would you need to know where they worked if the story was set at home?
You only need to know enough information for that particular story. You need to know about the surroundings they are currently in, the friends you are going to mention, the partner they are with if he is mentioned later. As a short story is an episode in someone’s life, or often a life-changing event, all you need to know about your character is what affects them in your story.
For example, if your main character is a young woman who is afraid of cats and finds herself lost in the country where the only place to go for help is a cattery, then you would need to know how her phobia of cats began. And you would need to give that information to the reader.
In a novel you can describe your character fully. In a short story, physical looks are not always mentioned. When they are, there is no top-to-toe description. Often only one feature is mentioned. This could be something to do with physical appearance – Jenny’s long blonde hair.
You can give your character dark curly hair and big brown eyes but please don’t have her looking in the mirror at herself so that you can describe her looks. There are other ways of showing your reader what characters look like.
This content was provided by one of our users, Lynne