Posted On September 14, 2015 by Print This Post

Creating Characters Readers Will Love with Rachael Thomas

Creating a character goes beyond their physical description. Readers need to know the reason behind your characters’ actions and motivations. Rachael Thomas tells you why.

Welcome back, Rachael!

To create a story your reader will be drawn into, you need characters they love, memorable characters with whom they can laugh or cry with as the story unfolds. You want your reader to care so much about the characters they just have to keep turning those pages. The only way to do this is to know everything about your characters and I mean everything. You need to know every little detail no matter how incidental it may seem because if you want them to stand out and stay in your reader’s mind long after the book has been finished, you need to get inside your characters minds, find out who they really are.

How to get to know your characters.

The best way I’ve found to do this, is to ask them questions by completing an interview. You could even design your own character sheets with all the questions you think you will need to ask and all those you’d love to know the answer to. These are the sorts of questions you should be answering.

1. Know the basics.

Find an image of your character, something you can focus on as you write. Then fill in the basics of what your character looks like. Not just what colour their eyes have, but how they change as the character’s mood changes. His eyes glittered with anger and were as dark as a midnight sky. Don’t just tell your reader your heroine is short; show them through your hero’s eyes. He looked down at her and the urge to protect this petite blonde surged through him.

You also need other information, like birthday and star sign. Find out what their hobbies are what music they love to listen to, what type of food they absolutely love or hate. Do they have a pet? What is the most precious thing they own and why? Some very leading questions there. A fabulous book from which to learn more about creating a character questionnaire, among other things, is Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. A constant on my desk.

2.  Know your characters’ likes and dislikes.

Once you’ve got the basics filled in, it’s time to delve deeper into your new character and find out what makes them tick. You may not need to put in the story the fact that that your heroine is a country girl at heart, but you will certainly know how she will react when faced with the buzz of a big city and confident alpha male who is so unlike any man in her hometown. Ask as many questions as you can, even if they seem incidental at the time. Treat your characters as a new friend you want to find out more about.

It’s also important to know how your character reacts to situations. What do they do if they are stressed? What makes them laugh? How they deal with bad news? What makes them angry and how they handle that? The list is endless.

3. Know their backstory.

This is what will give your story emotional depth and is a must. Knowing their backstory in detail will create characters that are Rachel Thomastrue to themselves. Every character will come to the blank page of a new book with a past that has unresolved issues and personal conflicts to overcome. You as the writer need to know these from the beginning, even if the reader doesn’t discover this until much later in the story.

Finally the most important question you can ask your characters as they tell you what has happened to them prior to your story starting is ‘why?’ For instance if your hero lets you know he will never be able to go to a certain part of the city, you want to know why not. What happened to him? When? How does it affect him now? What would he do if a situation forced him to do just that?

4. Know what they want in the story and why.

Your characters must have inner conflicts to resolve and problems to deal with as they progress through your story. At the start of the story you need to know what your characters want and where they want or need to be both physically and emotionally as the story ends. It may be that the hero wants one thing, when really, deep down he wants something completely different and through the course of the story and interaction with the heroine, he will discover what it is he really wants – and needs.

It is vital to get to know your characters even before you start writing chapter one, as you will then have characters that are alive and living in your story from the very first paragraph. This is the type of character a reader can connect with and through them be transported into the world of your story. It’s also great fun meeting new characters and part of the writing process I love!

What is your process for creating characters?


From+One+Night+To+WifeOne Night To Wife 
[Harlequin – August 2015]

A souvenir from her Greek affair! 

Three months ago, journalist Serena James had her heart broken by a man she’ll never forget, especially not the fury in his eyes the night they parted. Now she’s back in Santorini to tell him that their summer fling had unexpected repercussions…

Mogul Nikos Petrakis is on the verge of a deal that will make him even more powerful. He doesn’t need any distraction—especially not a sexy redhead whose curves beg to be touched! But now that she’s carrying his heir, Nikos is forced to make a decision.

It’s time to make Serena his wife!

When one night…leads to pregnancy!

 Amazon  – Harlequin B&N


Bio: I grew up in the Midlands, but when I moved to Wales, over twenty years ago, I found a place to finally put down roots. I married into a farming family and embarked on a massive learning curve which also saw me learning Welsh when my two children were small.

Writing is something I have always wanted to do and I can still remember the thrill of one of my short stories being held up as an example to the class when I was about nine. It wasn’t until my own children were in school that I seriously started to pursue my dream. I joined a local writing group which met every Monday afternoon and being with like-minded people was the boost I needed.

Reading romance had always been my first love, and just about every short story I wrote was romance, so I decided to write my first book. During that process I also attended my first weekend writing course with Kate Walker and joined the RNA’s fabulous New Writers’ Scheme. A short time later I joined Romance Writers of Australia and learnt a lot from entering their competitions. I sought out courses and you can imagine my joy when I discovered Sharon Kendrick’s course in beautiful Tuscany.

Behind the Scandalous Façade, my So You Think You Can Write entry, is my thirteenth book and although only eight have those magic words ‘the end’ written on them the others are definitely part of the learning process I have enjoyed over the last six years.

I love escaping to distant shores with my characters, entering their glamorous world and feeling all the emotions they experience as they discover their love for one another. A love so strong it will overcome all obstacles eventually, leading to that promised happy ever after.

Connect with Rachael Thomas on the web:  Website – Blog – Facebook  – Twitter  – Goodreads

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8 Responses to “Creating Characters Readers Will Love with Rachael Thomas”

  1. I agree 100% with this post. It’s helpful to write these character traits in a file and refer to it as you add characters. Great suggestions!

    Posted by Dan Alatorre | September 14, 2015, 9:34 am
  2. Hi Rachael,

    Research and developing characters are my favorite processes. The writing part in between is much more problematic. 🙂

    Good point on number four…identifying a character’s needs and motivations. I always go back to my character outline to keep myself on track.

    Thanks for blogging with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | September 14, 2015, 6:01 pm
  3. Evening Rachel!

    My characters come to me at odd times…generally not when I’m sitting down to write! =) they pop up in a dream, and a lot of times in the car when I’m driving. They’re always very secretive about their motivations though! Maybe next time I’ll put them through an interview!

    Thanks for the post!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | September 14, 2015, 11:09 pm
  4. OOh – bookmarked it! Thanks for a great post, Rachael!

    I’m curious, what part of Wales do you live in? I’ve been on holiday to Wales many times – my husband and I have explored much of the country. I love Wales!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | September 14, 2015, 11:41 pm
    • Hi Becke! Thanks for bookmarking the post. Wales is a great place, very green because of all the rain. I live about twenty minutes drive from the coast of Cardigan Bay. If you haven’t been there yet, you need to. It’s famous for its dolphins.

      Posted by Rachael Thomas | September 15, 2015, 11:51 am

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