Inventing Reality: A Guide to Writing Science Fiction


How can you create a memorable character that readers will root for? How about the perfect villain? What about a believable extraterrestrial? The topics on this page address these and many other character-related questions.


Characters: The center of your story 
Your story's characters are who the story is about, who the plot is happening to. They are the players that act across the stage of your setting. Arguably, they are the center of your story.
Main character
Typically a story is about a single character who must overcome some problem. This player in your story is called the main character.
Major vs. minor characters
Not all characters in your story are created equal. Some of the utmost importance while some are fairly insignificant.

Virtually every story has a central character that spends the tale overcoming a major challenge. This character is called the protagonist.
In most stories, someone causes the problem that vexes the main character. This character is called the antagonist.

Most main characters in science fiction stories also are traditional heroes, or larger than characters who serve as the tale’s protagonist. Such characters become “mythic”, especially after several stories describing their adventures.

Every story’s protagonist faces conflicts, and often they are with a special type of antagonist called a villain. Often the villain creates the situation that forces the main character to address the tale’s central problem.
Focus character
A focus character is one who the readers most care, even when he’s not in the scene.

Stock character
Not every character in your story needs to be fully developed. Sometimes you need characters who engage in readily recognizable relationships and actions simply to keep the story moving.


No doubt your novel will include dialogue in which characters speak to one another. Unfortunately, too many beginning writers drag their story into a furrow of tedium by poorly handling dialogue. The problem is that their characters’ dialogue mirrors actual conversations too closely.

As You Know Syndrome
Whatever you do, avoid embedding exposition by having one character say to another, “As you know …”