A Writer's Objectives

Character Creation

It’s been a while since I’ve done any sort of post that is both informative and inquiring. I’ve done posts in the past about things like: The ‘best’ time of day for writing, influences on writing style, procrastination, and weather influenced writing. I’m going to try to do more posts about various things I know many authors have trouble with. My goal is to give ideas on these things, while at the same time (hopefully) getting some ideas myself.

With that said: Today, we’re going to talk about Character Creation.

One of the topics I discuss with a lot of fellow writers is how best to create characters. There really is no “right” or “wrong” way to go about it; every writer is different and therefore, the style varies from person to person. But when it comes to character creation, there are very limited ways to do this. Occasionally, writers don’t have a choice; the characters create themselves and develop as the story goes. That’s all there is to it. Other times, there is a long process that sometimes takes much longer than we writers anticipated.

Personally, my character creation varies. The characters create themselves for the most part, but once they come to life in my mind, I sit down and figure out all the minor details. Age, appearance, important facts from their past, goals, fears, likes/dislikes. Most of the time this is all for my own personal reference; a character who likes the outdoors is going to end up with a job that allows them to work outside, etc. Sometimes the details become important to the story, but for the most part it doesn’t.

I’ve heard of some authors creating something similar to a biography for each of their characters. While this is interesting, it also takes up a large amount of time that could be dedicated to writing the story said characters are in. Other people jot down little bits of info here and there, but really don’t delve too deeply into the characters; they are the writers who pay more attention to detail than anything else. Some start with a name, then work from there. Others write a scene with the character, then figure out all the details that would account for the character’s actions.

One of the most helpful tools for writers who have difficulty with character creation is a Character Outline. There are many type available all over the internet created by and for other writers. Here are some other outlines you can use: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3. I actually have used all four of these in the past and have found them very useful. If you find that none of them seem to work for you, you can create your own or do an internet search for one that better fits.

Characters are some of the most important aspects of any story. Knowing your character better is not only helpful to you, but it is helpful to the story. With more knowledge of your character, you will be able to put them into several different situations and be able to have them react according to their personalities or past experiences that may have influenced the way they live. This also gives the readers a much clearer view of the characters they will be spending hours getting to know.

How do you develop characters? Do you use an outline, or do you just write and hope the character reveals enough through the story? What other ways have you seen/heard of when it comes to developing characters? Leave your responses in the comments! Thanks for reading =D

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Comments on: "Character Creation" (2)

  1. Mostly I use a mix of a “extreme basics” character sheet (for name, age, appearance info), quick little questionnaires (like the kind you might usually fill out for yourself), talking with them about their pasts (sort of an interview type thing), and just writing from their different points of view and exploring their minds in that way.
    I’ve never been able to force myself to sit down and actually fill out one of those long character sheets, heheh… Maybe for my next cast I’ll try it out. xD

    • I honestly don’t do the questionnaires very often anymore. But it is useful for writers who have difficulty getting an idea about what their characters are like, so I thought I would have them be a way to help them. =)

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