So, you’re wondering where to start in terms of characters and how they develop into the person you want. I’m going to break down character creation into just a few steps for you and then I’ll go through each point and talk about it. Here we go:
- Look to the people around you — who would make a good character and why
- Don’t put too much pressure on who you think your character needs to be — have a main idea, but let the character develop naturally
- Study multiple personalities — no one has just one bland personality type
- Give your character depth and insight by making sub-characters that help develop the reason for your character
- Find a character soundtrack — what music inspires your idea of your characters aspects
- Have fun watching your character grow!
Take a moment to think about each person in your family, now think about your friends, their friends, your families friends, your acquaintances, your distant relatives — the list could go on, but I believe you understand my point. I have discovered that I’m a coffee shop writer (sometimes) I, like to people watch and throw those helpless victims into my own writings.
Gather inspiration from what (who’s) around you. Yes, some of my characters are taken from random inspiration, and that can work smoothly as long as you let the character take the lead. This means you’re going to need a platform of inspiration where they can develop. Personally, I use pinterest (no, their not paying me to say this, but they should 😛 ) the reason I so highly suggest this site for writing is because you can get so much visual inspiration for practically whatever idea you have in mind, be it for a novel, book series, novella, trilogy, fantasy, anime, historical etc. Pinterest has probably got it. If you’re unsure how to go about doing this, you can check out my pinterest account that I use specifically for writing.
Anyway, consider taking from several different personalities and rolling them into one character. This works well to give your character depth and further intrigue your reader.
Let’s say you have an idea of what your character needs to be. Good. Take that and run with it, but remember, when you constrain your character to a specific limit of what it can be, it may not reach it’s full potential. It’s like trying to create a person, not just a character. People have thoughts emotions, character, and hopefully depth; I hope you realize that list could continue, your ‘person’ if you so choose to allow, is not limited to ink and page. In case you couldn’t tell by now, my style of writing is a little more free than some. What I mean by that is, I like to allow my writings to somewhat create themselves — this doesn’t, nor does it have to, work for everyone.
If you need a check-list plan for writing, then do it if that’s what works for you. The worst writing mistake is trying to make your writings like a fellow writer’s. Wow. That sentence had a lot of W’s. Yet at the same time it’s very important to pull from some of your favorite author’s in a totally original and uniquely inspired way. Delicate balance? Yes, now I know it may sound difficult, I thought so once myself, but once you begin writing, it will come easier than you think.
Point being: write in a way that fit’s your own unique style, yet always be looking for ways to expand your thinking and inspiration.
There are tons of different ways people categorize personality traits — personally, I’m not a huge fan of fitting particular people into even more particular “types”. There”s nothing necessarily wrong with it, but when it comes to most people, we change moods and our ideas of life, and the world are molded as we grow. This is a good thing because we need to grow and become deeper — so do the ‘people’ we are creating.
We have all seen the main character’s quirky side-kick in every movie, book, and story there is. So how do we take this common (and actually very helpful) trait from an everyday cliche type story to an epic scape where that sub-character can actually further your main character’s importance?
Well let’s break this down a little further and maybe you’ll get a better grasp on this (thanks for stickin’ with me through all of this info).
- How many sub-characters do you have? How many is actually enough?
- Where this does depend hugely on your main character, it also can be determined by what personalities would change the thoughts and ideas of your main character. So to answer the somewhat elusive question: You need to first figure out what conclusion you want your main character to come to and then ask yourself “What personalities would help my character get to the place that I want them to be in?”. When you get this figured out (believe me, it may take quite a while but stick to it) then you can let those personalities and ideas spill over into however many sub-characters you feel would fit the part(s).
- What is the point of any particular sub-character? How important should they be in your story?
- Sub-character’s are practically the lifeline if you will of your story. A hero who faces the villain without any prior or present support is less likely to succeed.
- Your friends are probably a huge part of your life, if our main characters are like people then our sub-characters are generally like friends.
Okay, so we’ve established that a main character without friends or support will not develop and grow as a person and your story will not have a beginning (where we learn about your characters and discover the problem) a climax (where we see the main character near the breaking point and we hit the greatest point of pain and confusion with your characters problem) let alone an ending (where at this point it’s really up to you in deciding exactly what happens but generally the hero discovers what it was he/she was missing and therefore hopefully helps the reader at least begin to discover something about themselves.
So this is an example (though it is one song and not a soundtrack) of a song that deeply inspired one of my characters. This is yet another way to help create your character and then let it take off from there. Figure out what inspires you, your writings, your characters, and what would inspire them as people. Music is an amazing way to be inspired. It evokes so much emotion into your writing when you discover what makes you passionate and how that bleeds into your words.
It takes some searching to find the right soundtrack, but you’ll find it — in a weird way, it’ll often come to you!
If you truly want to create a tangible, real, believable character, and you truly just want to write your heart out — it’ll happen. From here the best I can tell you about characters is write, create, be inspired, keep writing, read, repeat. KEEP GOING!
If this has been helpful or you have anything you would add, please let me know in the comments!