Character Creation Tips

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illuminara's avatar

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Note: I wrote this after reading a similar article in The Writer magazine about a year ago.  Hope it's helpful!

Not all characters are created equal.  Here are some steps to make yours superior.

1) Desire

Figure out what your character wants, needs, desires.  A closer relationship with God?  A place to belong?  Just to survive?  Figure it out.  You can’t move on to number 2 until you have.

2) Fear

Now that you know what your character most desires, you should be able to figure out what he/she most fears.  Doing the wrong thing, being alone, death?  They are the polar opposites of your character’s desires.

3) History

Go back in time to before your story begins and create a detailed backstory for your character.  What happened in to past to create in him the desires and fears that he has now?  Be specific.  Write out individual scenes, or at least play them through in you mind (though these never have to be in the actually story).  You need to know your character, to understand the way he thinks.

4) Behavior

After you have all of the above figured out, it’s time to describe the current behavioral patters of your character.  You know why he is the way he is, so it shouldn’t be difficult to give him specific habits and fetishes.  Quirks are what make a character unique and interesting.

5) High Stakes

Raise the stakes as high as you can.  Make your character come to a climactic moment, a moment where he has to choose between desire and fear.  Which will win?  This is the key element of any story.  Without it, the reader will have no motive for investing hours of time in your work.  Put everything on the line.  I mean, come on, this is what makes writing an adventure!

6) Don’t Meddle

This means that the story is now out of your hands.  It belongs to your characters.  Let them do the telling.  Don’t control them, even if it means that they will do something you personally wouldn’t—like eat mayonnaise.  Ug!  Anyhow, just let your characters take on a life of their own.  Remember that it's their story and not yours.  They should be the ones talking!

7) Let Go

Now that you’ve created characters with specific desires, fears, histories, and quirks, it’s time to let them play.  This is where the fun begins.  Throw them together by whatever means your story requires, then sit back at watch what happens.  You may not know what will happen next, but that’s the beauty of writing.  Don’t worry about ultra analyzing or book-length outlines.  Telling the story’s not your job, anyhow.  Let your characters do all the work.  All you have to do is open your imagination and take notes of what they do.
Well, here's a writing tip I wrote a while back for a xanga writing blog/community I used to run. Hope it's helpful!

More of my writing articles can be found here:…
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TheMoleUK's avatar

I'm not in a place where I can write right now but hope to get back into it later and character creation has always been a week point of mine.

I tend to take people I know and put them in stories or do fan fiction of previously created characters.

But I'd like to do better and I think this might help.

Thanks again.