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  Two or three characters are usually enough for a short story. Here's how to make the characters sound real:

Give them suitable names.
For example:
Pirates: Captain Peg-Leg, Scar-faced Bill, Sly Sam, One-eyed Pete
Astronauts: Commander Ben Lewis, Assistant Commander Buzz Owens, Captain Tilly Jones

Don't just use your friend's names in a story!

Describe what they look like and how they move.
For example:
A wizened old man shuffling about the house in slippers. A giant, hairy, orange caterpillar creeping slowly along. A ten year old girl, rather small for her age, skipped merrily along the street, her long fair hair flying in the wind.
  Try to show their personalities in the things they do, for example:
Careless - always breaking or losing things
Lazy - never wants to do anything, finds quicker ways of doing things
Coward - nervous, hides behind the others, stammers and stutters
Competitive - tries to do things better and faster, wants to win
Posh - Talks very properly, snooty, thinks better than everyone else

Try to show how they feel using adjectives and adverbs, for example:
tired, excitedly, grateful, angrily, happy, sadly, curious, worriedly, relieved, nervously

Write what they say and what they think.
For example:
" I'm sure I'll be able to fix the spacecraft." At that moment she believed herself.

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