Creating Characters for Creative Writing
Sometimes creating characters for your short story, play, or other piece of fiction, can be extremely difficult. I generally start the piece without much thought in the characters, letting them evolve as I write, but this isn't always the best place to start. I've found in some cases, such as with the piece that I'm working on now, creating the characters first really gets me involved in the lives, wants, and hates of the characters.
Creating your characters first will often help develop your writing.
What's great about creating characters is that they can be who and what you want. There are no rules as to how you design your characters. If you want a nasty villain who's also a drama-laden prom queen, you can do that; if you want a scaly-faced pizza delivery boy who fights crime and has wings, you can do that, too.
Depending on what genre you're into and what your main focus will be, you'll find that your characters will vary greatly, but when creating your characters, consider some of the following tips.
Since most stories have multiple characters, you'll want to consider all characters that you may encounter. Whether main characters, a part of past memories, or just a stand-n character that only appears for a piece of a scene.
Start with your main characters- protagonist and antagonist. Also consider any other main/secondary characters who will play a big part of your writing. Consider genders, ages, and major goals. For main characters, you'll also want to consider any background history, personality traits, appearance details, habits, fears, motivations, mannerisms, motivations, and secrets.
When it comes to supporting characters that aren't as big of a part in your plots, you'll still want to create a synopsis of the characters, but you won't need to go into as much details. Just make sure that you are familiar with the characters. Figure out their genders, ages, appearance details, personality traits, and a little background information.
Create character profiles of your characters, including:
- Appearance - Height, Weight, Body type, Facial features (eyes, complexion, nose, lips, etc), Hair, Clothing style, Body modifications (tattoos, piercings, etc.), Visible scars
- Personality Traits - Nervous ticks
- Background - Parents, Siblings, Overall family life, Education, Friends, Birth place, Religion/beliefs, Heritage
- Best/Worst Qualities
- Fears, Motivations, Goals
The more your character will be in your plot-lines, the more information you will want to know about them, but that doesn't meant that you have to share the information with your readers. It's just good for you, as the author, to know your characters inner thoughts, secrets, needs, and wants, even if your readers don't need to know. There are some things that you want your readers to be able to read between the lines.
You want to be able to empathize with your characters, but you don't necessarily want to sympathize with them. You want to know why your characters do what they're doing and say what they're saying. You don't have to sympathize with the villain, but you want to empathize as to why your villain is acting the way he/she is.
For help creating characters, make sure to watch people around you and listen to stories of friends and family. You'll be able to grab more realistic characters when you put into play situations, phrases, personalities that can grab attention, and characters that will cause your readers to empathize.
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