My main character has two love interests. I’m not sure who she should end up with.

This is a very interesting dilemma! My guess is that you don’t know your main character quite well enough yet and that is why you are struggling. In a situation like this, your character should be leading you in the direction that makes the most sense for him/her. The other thought is that perhaps the two characters are too similar? If there aren’t distinct differences between them, I could see why it would be hard for her to choose (or for you to decide as the author).

I suggest taking a good look at the two guys first and see if they are similar or pretty different. If they are different in terms of how they see the world and what’s important to them, then you need to go back to your main character and get to know her better. What are her goals and wishes for a relationship? What does she need in a relationship? If she really needs and wants someone she can trust and talk to, which guy is more likely to be there in that way for her?

Getting relationships right in a book can be hard but it all goes back to knowing your characters and allowing them to take you to the places they want to go.

How do I make my characters more interesting?

Try not to copy characters you’ve seen in movies or on television. Make your characters unique in some way. Think of people in your own life. What makes you roll your eyes at your mom? Why do you think that kid in your science class is weird? Add these traits to your own characters.

How can I make my young adult story realistic without using profanity?

The language characters use depends on who they are. There are many, many books out there with 12-13 year old characters and those characters don’t swear. Just go with the characters. And if you find there is a character who might say the occasional cuss word, you don’t have to use a cuss word. You can just say, “She swore.” Or “He used words that would have grounded me for a week.”

Your characters will always dictate how they speak so don’t worry about whether your characters will seem real if they don’t swear. There are lots of kids who don’t use cuss words and if you make us care about your characters, they will feel real, whether they cuss or not!

How do I pick a name for my character?

Because I write mostly contemporary fiction, I use my kids’ school directories and yearbooks for a lot of my names. What a great resource they are! But if you are writing science fiction or fantasy, you may want to check out other resources.  A friend of mine who writes fantasy often looks to names from the middle east and modifies them to fit her books. You may also look at the names other writers use for their stories and get a feel for the sound and flavor of them.  If the meaning of a name might be important, you can check out sites like and and search for the meaning to see a list of names.

What about you? How do you create your characters? Share your tips and questions here!