Character Creation

Here is another helpful post on building characters from the website Men with Pens.

The Spark of Creation

Everyone has their own process for creating characters. In gaming, character sheets that use points or numbers to determine skill levels and abilities are common. In fiction writing, authors may build complex Black Books for each character. Others might just have a general idea of their character.

The character sheets used for gaming offer a good opportunity to finding the perfect middle ground between more than vague and less than complex. A basic character sheet goes a long way in helping you flesh out your character concept to create a living, breathing character you’ll want to play every day.

Inspiration is all around you – all you have to do is open yourself up to it. Here are some ways to begin building a character for your novel, your story or for our creative writing game:

Get a Good Name

Names often have very strong associations for people. I absolutely love some names because they remind me of people I’ve liked in the past. Some names invoke an emotion or a feeling.

Be careful though – Some names make you want to cringe. Some are just silly. Some… well. Put some thought into what your character’s name will be.

Listen to a Great Song

Song lyrics are very powerful. They evoke mood and emotion. They also help to set a scene in your mind. Maybe when you hear a certain song you think of a specific individual or can picture the kind of person that would have that song as a theme.

Watch a Movie; Read a Book

Actors and characters in books also give you ideas for your own characters. The way a person looks, acts or might behave in real life could start you on a concept.

Love Gladiator? What about a character with the same values? Love Julia Roberts? Maybe your character smiles the same way or laughs just as openly.

Who Are You?

Now that you have a general idea what your character looks like or how he or she behaves and moves, you have to decide who this person is. This is your character concept. It’s a teaser. It should be easy to state in one or two sentences.

For example, John Doe left his home in Montana to find his missing brother who mysteriously disappeared. John feels responsible for keeping the family together and will do anything to make that happen.

A couple of simple lines provides a wealth of information for building the rest of the character’s personality, strengths and weaknesses. It also leaves room for development and potential storylines.

The Character Sheet

Is your character a computer genius? What level of education has he completed? Is he good at fixing things? Can he drive? Does he have any vices? What are his personal strengths? Everyday things we take for granted go into your character – because one day, he may need to use those skills.

Some other aspects of a character to consider are:

  • Family and friends (names of parents, siblings, spouses, and close friends)
  • Occupation
  • Social status
  • Financial background
  • Pet peeves
  • Date and place of birth
  • Appearance
  • Greatest achievement/failure
  • Hopes and fears

The list is practically endless. Get as detailed as you want. Real people have many facets, and so should your character.

How Did I Get Here?

The next thing to decide is how your character arrived at where he is now. For example, our upcoming creative writing game is set in a fictional town called Reckon located in the Lake Tahoe area of Nevada.

People from all lifestyles pass through Lake Tahoe. Vacationers, con artists, the rich and famous, the poor and notorious… they arrive there for a reason, even if that reason is just wanderlust. How did your character get to where he is?

This is your prelude. Every character has a history. It’s up to you to fill in those details for a rich character with a full life story to share.


Now it’s time for introductions. Characters don’t just stand up and say, “Here I am!” The author introduces them to readers in some way.

Character introductions tend come about in two ways: Through the author’s introduction to the reader by describing the scene that includes the character and his thoughts, or through meeting other characters.

Once the work is done, you get to start having fun – you may already be having fun by now. Personally, I find the process of creating characters to be the best part, and I take weeks to do it.

Exploring a new character is like meeting a new friend. Take your time. Enjoy it. As the saying goes, the fun is in the journey, not the destination.

Writing Tips… Developing your Characters

Hi guys, hope you are all having a lovely November. Now that my exams are over, I’m dedicating all my time to writing. To write a great book, one that hooks a reader an author needs to always have his/her tools polished. Learning how to write an engaging and captivating story is a lesson that never comes to an end.

So I went surfing the internet to look up a few tips and found 9 that were very helpful from blogger Jason Black ‘the book doctor’ who is a freelance editor. Check them out. I hope they are as helpful to you as they were to me.

*Click on the links for extended explanation


Show Some Character!

Do you know the right way to use backstory?* Because a lot of writers don’t. It’s easy to get seduced by your excitement over the characters you’ve created, and in your zeal to share with the reader, dump a lot of plodding backstory into the novel in ways that kill the pacing and the intrigue. This article talks about using backstory to support and build your novel’s mysteries.

Drive a stake through your character’s heart.* If you’re writing a vampire novel, you may or may not want to take that literally. In this article, I don’t mean it literally, but rather, I show a technique for raising the stakes in your novel by challenging a character’s assumptions about who they are: an identity crisis may suck in real life, but it can do wonders to elevate a novel.

Do you know an inner character arc from an outer one?* The typical outer character arc is all about characters changing and growing by learning from the events of a novel. But there’s another kind of character arc, the inner kind, which stems from resolving differences in the perceptions that characters have about each other.

Do your characters’ flaws work on more than one level?* The tragically flawed hero or heroine is a workhorse element of much fiction. As readers, we like to see characters who aren’t too perfect, because we can empathize with them better. But as a writer, are you taking advantage of your characters’ flaws to enhance the drama in your plot as well?

Don’t forget to revise your characters too* After National Novel Writing Month wrapped up, I wrote about a series of techniques you can apply while revising your novel to strengthen your characters. This series covers everything from speech patterns and mannerisms to deep issues of motivation and goals. Characters are the soul of fiction, so it pays to make them as vivid and lifelike as you can.

Do you know the real reason not to use passive voice?* Most of us have our first, formative writing experiences in school, where we learn to use the passive voice to put the emphasis on the facts we’re conveying rather than on ourselves. But when we begin to write fiction, passive voice becomes the kiss of death. Not because it hides the author from the reader, but because it hides your characters from the reader.

Are your characters falling through gaps in your writing?* Nearly everything in a novel reflects in some way on the characters. In this article, I show how characters can be damaged quite unintentionally by the gaps between scenes and chapters in a novel, and teach you how to build bridges over those gaps for your characters to cross.

Hook ‘em with character* Every novel needs a good hook. You have to grab the reader’s attention and get them interested in what happens next. Plot-oriented hooks can be quite effective, but they’re not the whole story. Character-oriented hooks are quite powerful as well. In this article, I explain how a great hook shows character through conflict.

The five stages of grief* Number one for the year is this article about the five stages of grief model of emotional response. Nothing makes a character come across as wooden and unbelievable faster than when their emotional responses aren’t believable, and nothing kills a novel faster than when this happens at a moment of high drama. You can fix both by getting the emotions right, and in this article I show a template for creating believable, compelling emotional responses for the most dramatic moments in a novel: when bad things happen.

Source of article Plot to Punctuation