Creating a Character

One thing that is pretty much required for any good story is characters of any kind.  Generally, when starting to organize your thoughts on a plot, you start with the general setting and course of the story line.  You have a vague idea of how many main characters you want, generally you know what age and gender you want them to be, sometimes you have a signature article of clothing or jewelry picked out if it’s important, maybe a certain look to their eyes or an overall feel you should get when you read or write with this character, but there are little to no details.

Generally, when you sit down and decide to finally flesh out the character, it involves a name, a physical appearance, a family life, age, a biography of some kind, a basic personality, and their role in the story, though that stays more of a mental thing.  These things should be very well fleshed out, but they are more often than not just a skeleton.  It looks something like this:

Name: Carla Williams.
Physical appearance: Scarlet hair, blue eyes, tall, graceful, perfect teeth.
Family life: One brother, two working parents.  She doesn’t see any of them much because they all like to do their own thing and have their own lives.
Age: 17
Biography: Has moved around a lot.  Currently lives in a small town with a small high school.  Is considered quite popular but has few true friends.
Personality: She pretends to laugh a lot, keeps up her looks with designer clothes, manicures, cute shoes, etc.  She’s highly intelligent and knows how to manipulate people with her popular status.  She has to hide certain parts of her personality, like her tom-boy fascination with guns and cars, to preserve her popularity.

As you go, certain things begin to fall into place.  I don’t have a story for this character, so I had to sort of imagine her universe as a typical small-town setting in the modern world.  However, if I were to change one simple thing in her biography:

Name: Carla Williams.
Physical appearance: Scarlet hair, blue eyes, tall, graceful, perfect teeth.
Family life: One brother, two working parents.  She doesn’t see any of them much because they all like to do their own thing and have their own lives.
Age: 17
Biography: Has moved around a lot.  Currently lives in a small town with a small high school.  Is considered quite popular but has few true friends.  Had a second, older brother, who was murdered by a unknown gang in the last town she lived in.
Personality: She pretends to laugh a lot, keeps up her looks with designer clothes, manicures, cute shoes, etc.  She’s highly intelligent and knows how to manipulate people with her popular status.  She has to hide certain parts of her personality, like her tom-boy fascination with guns and cars, to preserve her popularity.

WHOAH.  Do you know how much this gives me to work with??  I’m getting excited just thinking about this.  Does this mean her hidden fascination of guns and cars are because of her secret drive to find her brother’s murderers?  How long does she intend upon keeping up this pretty-good-girl facade?  Is her other brother in on this?  Was the brother even around then?  Was he adopted to help the parents cope with the loss of their other son?  Will he be roped in by Carla in her search for revenge?

The word choices I made in the personality section, “Pretends to laugh a lot” and “knows how to manipulate people” and “She has to hide certain parts of her personality,” all suddenly mean so much more.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  Suddenly I have a much more interesting, deep, complicated, diverse character.  And that’s a lot of adjectives, so you understand how exciting this can be.  You may have noticed, since I originally had no plot for this character, I ended up having an idea of one by the end of it, which is the opposite approach than the one I outlined at the beginning of this post.  Either one is perfectly fine.  I have purposefully not gone back and edited Carla so what you see here is completely original and unedited.

I hope this was helpful, gave you inspiration, or simply gave you some insight.  I have decided I will begin posting once a month around this time, and hopefully get a schedule going.

This is The Raven, off in search of Inspiration.

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One thought on “Creating a Character

  1. Wow! Thanks! I’m writing a lot at the moment and this helped me a fair bit! Thanks! (I’m subscribed to your youtube channel, and follow you on quotev, I’ll be starting a website soon)

    Like

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