P. S. Hoffman's Writing Blog

Free Chapter from "Fantastic Characters and How to Write Them"

Enjoy this free sample from my newest release, Fantastic Characters and How to Write Them.

Pre-order the book here!

What is a fantastic character?

I know what you are.

You’re a sorcerer, a wielder of wondrous magic, and you have more power than you know. You can conjure worlds full of the most interesting, charming, devious, heroic, and sometimes vile characters known to humankind.

And you can do all this with words alone.

But your power runs deeper. Let me show you how:

Picture a fictional character you love. One you truly adore.

Perhaps you see a wise, old wizard or a valiant warrior princess or a heartthrob street urchin who’s fallen desperately in love ...

Go on. Pick the clearest one that floats into your mind. With your sorcerous imagination, you and I are going to summon that character into reality—piece by piece. This is a magical moment, and these days, magic is rather rare, so let your imagination run wild.

Think about what they look like: all their colors, the texture of their clothes (silky smooth or ragged and threadbare), the unique tools they hold in their hands.

Does the wizard wear patchy, frayed robes and carry a white staff? Do the corners of his mustache twitch back and forth when he laughs?

The warrior—do her scars speak of a hard-won survival? Is her war cry a throaty roar or an unsettling shriek?

Does the dirt on the thief’s clothes help him blend in ... or does it make his roguish smile shine all the brighter?

Sight is only one component of many, and the spell has just begun. Let us tug on the strings of magic and go deeper ...

Think about how your character moves.

Watch the old wizard, sitting on his horse-drawn cart, puffing a pipe as he wanders down a winding road. Follow the thief’s swift dance as he plucks the ripest apple from under the guards’ noses. Notice how the uneasy warrior clenches the hilt of her sword, even in the safest of taverns.

Listen to their voice.

Hear the brash decisiveness of the warrior princess. Heed the wizard’s concern, as the riddles of the world vex him. And the thief? Why, he makes no sound save the light scuffing of slippers on stone.

Can you sense it? Our spell is almost complete.

But now comes the hardest part.

I want you to take this character—and ruin their day. Throw them into a cave where a ravenous beast dwells. Or force them to form a shaky alliance with their oldest rival, so they must navigate interpersonal politics far outside their grasp. Or let them peer into a window and gasp in horror as they watch their lover kiss someone else.

We’re not doing this to be cruel. We’re doing this to see how this character acts in a situation they’ve never experienced before. This is how we discover what your character truly desires.

Once we know what motivates your character, we can figure out everything they will do and say and everywhere they will go. Does your character fight for what they want? How do they do it?

Use your imagination to play out their reactions, and just like that ...

You created pure magic.

You took a beloved fictional person—a fantastic character—and brought them to life, which means you already have the power to write truly amazing characters. You can put any character into any situation and make them act exactly as they should, true to their character. What’s more: anyone who reads your characters will envision them doing the exact same thing.

But a truly talented sorcerer will take their magic a step further. We don’t want to borrow someone else’s—we want to create and develop our own fantastic characters; unique and endlessly addictive and born from your own imagination.

So, my wise and powerful witch (or wizard, or whichever school of magic you follow), I’m going to teach you something new.

By the end of this book, you’ll have all the ingredients to create fantastic characters at will. You’ll be able to develop characters your readers adore, characters that keep your readers hooked and coming back to your stories time and time again.

And I’ll show you why creating fantastic characters is ridiculously fun. After this, you’ll find more joy from writing your own characters than you ever thought possible.

With time, you will even become a master of character creation.

Are you ready to learn this gift?

Good.

This book was written with fantasy, science fiction, and romance authors in mind, and most of the examples will be taken from those genres however, anyone who writes characters will benefit from these ideas. Whether you’re steeped in literary fiction, video game creation, dungeon mastering, or you just love telling stories, this book will help you craft more exciting, fascinating characters, and you’ll have more fun doing it.

We’ll start by creating one of the most universally feared and beloved characters of all time: a dragon.

If you prefer, you can follow along by developing your own character, dragon or otherwise. I just happen to love dragons. As everyone knows, all dragons must start life as a humble egg ...

Fantastic Characters and How to Write Them releases on October 18th.

I think you'll find it incredibly helpful in your author journey. Thank you for reading, and keep writing!

2 comments on “Free Chapter from "Fantastic Characters and How to Write Them"”

    1. Absolutely. I wrote it with Fiction & Screen Writers, Tabletop Developers, and Video Game writers in mind. If your story has characters in it, this is a great book to read 🙂

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P. S. Hoffman
About P. S. Hoffman
P. S. Hoffman writes Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is obsessed with all things futuristic, primarily Artificial Intelligence and the transformation of societies. Here, he shows others how to sharpen their fiction-writing skills by dissecting the techniques used by the world's best authors.

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