“Treat all your secondary characters like they think the book’s about them.” – Jocelyn Hughs
“Every villain is a hero in his own mind.” – Tom Hiddleston
“Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.” —Leslie Gordon Barnard
Note: If you are not planning a sci-fi novel, you don’t need to read the sections on creating alien species, which bleeds heavily into world building. If your aliens are a major part of your story and will be interacting with your humans, you’ll want to start thinking about such things as what they look like and what their social construct is, especially as each alien will have different personalities, just like humans do. If your aliens are not sentient creatures, or don’t interact with humans much, if at all, then skip the creating aliens sections until you get to world building, then come back to learn about aliens.
1.) 33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters – by Kristen Kieffer
2.) The Four Cornerstones of Strong Characters – by M.J. Bush
3.) 5 Secrets of Complex Supporting Characters – by K.M. Weiland
4.) The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault – by K.M. Weiland
5.) How to Create a Powerful Antagonist: The Epic Villain Breakdown – by Kristen Kieffer
6.) How To Avoid a Protagonist-Centric Villain – by Gillian Bronte Adams
7.) Four Powerful Ways to Revolutionize Female Villains – by Rae Elliott
8.) The Basics of Point of View for Fiction Writers – by Jane Friedman
9.) How To Choose Your Character Names – by NY Book Editors
10.) Writing With Color – by Colette, Alice, Jessica, & Lesya (A blog dedicated to writing and resources centered on racial & ethnic diversity. We share writing advice, guides, book recs, and more. The link here takes you to their FAQ page. Read that for what you need, and see their guidelines for asking other questions if you have them.)
Make sure you do at least one of these three exercises for your antagonist!
1.) Write a letter from your character to you as if the character were an old-fashioned pen pal. The character should introduce himself thoroughly in his own words. This exercise is especially helpful when you have a character who won’t “talk” to you.
2.) Answer the following questions in detail: If your character could go back in time and change one thing about her past, what would it be? What happened? Why would she choose this event? What change would she want to make?
3.) Define how your main character will die, either physically, professionally, or psychologically, if she does not achieve her objective. If you can’t, ask yourself if the objective is truly crucial to her well-being. Find a way to make it so important readers will understand why the objective must be achieved.