Characters come in all colours, shapes and sizes. One of the biggest challenges when writing a story is to come up with a cast of characters that interest the reader and fit the plot. There are basically three types of characters: the protagonist, the antagonist and secondary characters. Protagonist The protagonist - also known as the hero or heroine - is the main character in your story. This is the character you want readers to relate to and root for. Your protagonist should be appealing, but not perfect. The key to creating a believable character is to give him a mixture of strengths and weaknesses - just like a real person. But a character that's too ordinary won't capture the heart and mind of the reader, you need someone with a strong personality. The main character should be brave enough to overcome his fears and determined in his struggle to conquer life's obstacles. Think of the main characters in three of your favourite books and write down what you like about them. Antagonist The antagonist - or villain - is often another character that creates problems for the hero. But the antagonist can be a force rather than a person. For example, the enemy could be a storm, a tornado, a flood or any other natural phenomenon that the hero struggles against. Whether you choose a person or a force, try to create a vivid picture of your antagonist. And give your human villains a reason for their actions to make them believable. For example, if your villain is a bully, ask yourself why. Perhaps he has been bullied by others and wants everyone else to suffer. Think of the antagonists in three books you've read and make a list of their villainous actions. Then write a possible reason beside each of them. Secondary characters Heroes and villains are surrounded by other people who are part of their daily lives. These secondary characters might be their best friends, schoolmates, teachers, parents, siblings and neighbours. Readers don't need to know a lot about these characters, but you can make them memorable by giving each one a defining characteristic such as a quirky name or an odd physical feature. Think of three secondary characters in a story you've read and write one defining feature about each of them. Creating characters Each character in your story should come alive on the page. The best way to do this is to get to know your characters well - even if you don't include everything you know about them in your story. Secondary characters don't need to be developed in detail, but main characters (i.e. the protagonist and the antagonist) do. One way to do this is to create a character sketch that includes the following information: name, age, physical features, clothes, family members, pets, favourite things, hobbies, personality traits, strengths, weaknesses, fears, main goal and biggest problem. Think of a person you know well and create a character sketch of them. Are you ready to breathe life into those characters that inhabit your imagination? You could start by 'interviewing' your protagonist in your head - but remember to let your character do the talking.