Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Creating Characters

One of the main tasks of a writer is to create characters worth reading about. Many different factors work into the equation of producing these types of characters. They need to be interesting and motivated. Not all characters are lovable, but it helps to have a likable quality of some sort. But, most of all they should be three-dimensional.

To accomplish this, a writer should know the character almost as well as he knows himself. Character creation may start with a name and physical characteristics, but it doesn’t stop there. Think about some of your favorite characters in books, movies, and television shows. How much do you know about them?

You, as the writer, need to know a little bit more than the reader. Everything may not be included into the actual story, but each new bit of information will lead to another, producing the needed variety to create characters worth reading about.

Whether you start a story knowing your main character, or get to know your character as you go, at some point you should step back and see who you’ve created. As you get to know him outside of the story, you may discover new points worth weaving into your story.

There are many methods used for this process. Here are a few:
  • Long Character Bio Sheets
  • Index Card Bios
  • Biography by Author
  • Biography by Character
  • Vision Boards
Really, the methods are endless. What matters is what works for you.

I’ve tried many methods, but the one which works for me is the biography by the Author. I’ll sit down and just start writing, first introducing the character – name, age, physical traits and such, and then start as far back as I feel necessary, depending upon the story.

Personality is one of the keys to your creation. Everything can be wrapped around this one small aspect, because everything makes him who he is (personality). His parents, the way he looks, childhood events, social upbringing, the list goes on and on, but it all leads in one direction – who he is and why he does what he does.

Take a moment and discover who you’re writing about.

How do you create your characters? Do you have a preferred method, or does it change with each story? Do you keep it all in your head, or fill page after page of character information?


Terry W. Ervin II said...

Good post.
Knowing that character ahead of time, and tracking how they change/grow helps to keep them consistent and real to the readers.

Cherie Reich said...

Great post, Cher!

The plot and the character often go hand in hand with me as I'm thinking about one, I learn about the other. I sometimes write things about the character(s), but I often use that first draft--or two--to learn about the characters and try to find more about them as well as their voice. Through edits, I'm still learning about my characters, particularly minor characters who didn't get as much love as in those early drafts. It's a never-ending process. :)

clarbojahn said...

I use character bios. They seem to help me the most.

Thanks for this great post, Cher!

Cher Green said...

Great to hear from all of you. Glad you enjoyed the post. And thank you for sharing a bit of your own processes. :)

TBM said...

I have notes on my characters at my desk that I'm always referring to. Characters for me are vital to any story and I have to know them inside and out.

Cher Green said...

I agree, characters make the story. Even plot-driven stories need great characters.

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