June 8, 2023


You might say it is easy  to write something  with one character.  But this is not easy at all. It is one of the hardest types of stories to write.  

The short story I’m  working on right now that is a part of my work in progress novel, During the Blue Hour  only  has  one character. It’s about  a deleted character  from my novel  named Zios, a werewolf  who was once a wolf  that has flashbacks and remembrance of how he  became human.  In the story he hardly interacts with anyone and it  through the flashbacks it follows  him  showing how he survived .

One of the first things  I was taught when  I started taking my writing classes both in creative writing and screenwriting  in college was  how to write  short stories and short films  with only one to two characters. And I  always  wondered  why the professors  always started us off with  doing that.  Was it a test to see how well you wrote?  Were  they trying to break us? To weed us out of the crowd? 

Usually these  type of stories are common with short stories  but can be seen in novellas  and novels but are  rare.

Famous stories that only have one to two characters are:

  • Allen Edgar Poe Tell Tale Heart
  • Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”
  • Hatchet Paperback by Gary Paulsen
  • A Girl Named Disaster  by Nancy Farmer.
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy .
  • The Beckett Trilogy (Beckett Trilogy) by Samuel Beckett

You see the list is not long.  As writers writing regular stories we  rely heavily  on the  character foil devices of  the secondary  characters to progress the plot  

But writing  stories  with only one character  or no dialogue  no less requires  lots of  emotion  and tension to carry the plot. 

Tension is the key  to these types  of story whether it be for a novel or short  story.  Tension of course is some sort of conflict.  Conflict  is important in any and every type of story .  Both tension  and emotion can be as simply  written by   using  behavior  and perception  of the character .  What does the character notice?  How does  he  react?  Many   of these types   of one character stories   are  usually seen as  post-apocalyptic   and focus  on heavily  driven environment stories  such as the THE ROAD  and Jack London’s “To Build a Fire”

Visualize locations that quickly and dramatically set the stage for your story.

You can also make your characters vivid and distinct by using appearance to help communicate the story’s meaning.

Another way to write a story with one character  is to use  internal dialogue  or  the  unreliable   narrator  like Allen  Edgar Poe did in  the  Tell Tale heart. 

However just  because  you have a one  character  story  doesn’t mean they can’t  interact  with  other characters.  Yes there is a loop hole to  having  one character without having  a  cast of characters.   To  do this you can have your   one character  have a  flashback  or interact with an animal.

If you liked this blog post and you want to  see more content involving my work in progress During the Blue Hour Follow , Like , share  . But first  LET’S START A DIALOGUE

Have you ever read or tried to write a story with only one character?

 I want to know so let me know in the comments below.

You can also interact with the podcast on Gab @duringthebluehour