Character Building

Welcome to another blog designed to help all those young writers who want to take part in the Beyond The Vale Publishing Schools Writing Competition.

You can still enter! Visit for more details or click here.

Today I want to talk to you a little bit about your characters.

What characters will you need?

First, you’ll need a hero. Your main character is also called the protagonist. Your protagonist will be the person (or animal or alien) that your story revolves around.

Think about what your character looks like and have a detailed description, even if you don’t use this in your story.

You might want to give your character a distinguishing feature – such as Harry Potter’s scar – or a catchphrase.

Think about your character’s backstory – you might not put this in your story, but it’s good to know where your protagonist came from, what challenges have they had in their life – and just where did that scar/limp/extra finger come from?

Second, your protagonist will need a buddy. A friend, a confidant, a sidekick. Someone they either befriend in the story or they have already been friends with. This could also be a talking pet or a sociable tree. The purpose of the buddy is to help your protagonist along. Sometimes the buddy may come into danger and have to be rescued.

Thirdly, we will need an antagonist – the primary bad person. Your bad person is there to do something nasty that your protagonist must stop. Or your antagonist is there to stop your hero from achieving their goal. Your bad person can take any form you want, it doesn’t even have to be a person – it could be a volcano, a fire, or a flood for example. As for your protagonist, consider all your antagonist’s details both physical and character traits. Why are they bad? Even if you don’t write them in your story.

Who else? Here are some other people you might consider. A mentor – a mentor will guide your protagonist, and give them hints and tips as they go about their business – think Dumbledore from Harry Potter as an example. You might want to give your antagonist a sidekick to help them do evil things. Secondary characters – these play a minor role in your story. They could be friends of your antagonist and will help give your story more depth.

If you have any self-publishing related questions, drop me an email – or click here.