Bringing Characters to Life isn't as Hard as it Sounds with Fiona Ingram

One area I sometime struggle with is developing my characters. However, I know a few writers who happen to be really good at it and I've asked one of them to share some tips with us today. Fiona Ingram is the author of the new series the Chronicles of the Stone. 

Creating Characters and Naming Them
When any young writer starts out creating a story, it’s more likely he or she will think of the story first, with only a vague idea of the characters. One or two may stand out in the beginning of the creative process, with the others remaining in the shadows until their time comes. Bringing characters to life is not as hard as it sounds. Often the plot and storyline help develop the characters. The action drives the characters to react, and then they show the reader who they really are, and what makes them so special.
  • Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible. Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. If you have a hero or heroine, make them just a tad different to the people around them, to help them stand out from the crowd. Maybe they have a special talent, a dark secret, or a particular quirk.
  • Use Dialogue to develop Your Characters. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Their interaction will reveal the chain of events as the characters work out various situations. Dialogue is also a great way to include details about your characters. As they speak, they reveal their intentions, their hopes and fears, and the workings of their minds. Don’t forget to break your dialogue with various activities so that readers don’t get bogged down in lots of talking but no action.
  • Make Your Characters as Real as Possible. Real people are not perfect. Your baddie should not be all bad. He or she can become more interesting by having a soft spot no one knows about. Your goodie will become boring if he or she is too good. Maybe the hero could lose his temper at the wrong time or do something he feels ashamed of later on. All humans are made up of good and bad; make your characters a fascinating mixture of both.
  • Make Your Information to the Reader as Interesting as Possible: You can do this by weaving it into the story. Don’t say that it’s cold. Get your character to shiver because he left his jacket at home. Use adjectives and adverbs to enhance your descriptions and actions but don’t overdo it. The reader is also going to use his or her imagination, so don’t overload your writing with too many descriptions. You can help the reader along by using your five senses to engage theirs: sight, sounds, touch, taste, smell. Is your hero in a hot, exotic climate? He (or she) will be sweating, the sounds will be different, the taste of the food unusual etc. Is your heroine (or hero) in a strange place – what is she experiencing e.g. confusion, anxiety, excitement or curiosity? You can create the environment for your readers so they appreciate exactly what the hero is experiencing.
  • Naming Your Characters. This can be huge fun. The character’s name can add so much to the reader’s understanding or perception of them. Use traits that stand out to help you create a name. For example, a fussy neighbor could be called Miss Twittering; a stern headmaster could be called Mister Gruff. An imaginative choice of name will enhance your character’s personality.
The young writer needs to pay attention to details and help the characters develop as the plot unfolds. Well-rounded characters will bring the story alive, and make readers eager to find out what’s going to happen next.

Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. Ingram has finished the second book in the Chronicles of the Stone series, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans—which is due to release soon.

Naturally, Ingram is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Remembering kids today are computer savvy, ALL of Fiona Ingram’s books are available both in hard copy and eBook.

You can find out more about Fiona Ingram’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Ingram and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Ingram will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children. The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Fiona Ingram about her children’s book series, writing, the publishing industry, and the trials and tribulations of the writer’s life.

The show will be live September 26, 2011 at 2pm EST. You can tune in at the World of Ink Network site at


  1. Wonderful list of way to make a story more engaging! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very good tips for any writer. Thanks, Fiona!

  3. Fiona, fun tips on naming. I admit that in addition to adding quirks from people I know to my characters -- such as my penchant for leaving the dishes in the dish drain to drip dry -- I sometimes recycle parts of famous names. I hope that using the last name of a well-known American Indian musician as the last name of the friendly Senator in my second novel won't get me in trouble...

  4. I love this guest post and I thank Fiona for taking the time to share her tips. She is one talented author and one I'm learning a lot from.

  5. Fantastic article, thanks for the wonderful tips! Best wishes for a successful tour!

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