Posted in Fiction

Character Building

So much goes into the creation of a storybook character. The goal is to make them as unique as possible so that they stand out to the reader, making them memorable. But to do this you must build them from the ground up. Go from simple to complex. The more complex the character, the more real they become. After all, humans are complex creatures aren’t we?

As a writer and a human, we are all different and have different writing styles and ways of doing things. This method I am about to show you is my way, so take it and mold it into YOUR way. What you’ll notice after you compile all of the information about your characters, is that you won’t use all of it in your story. BUT you will have it in case you DO need it later. Maybe you want to write a book series, so information regarding your character that you didn’t use in the first book might come in handy in later books.

Beginning (Simple): Brainstorm a list of characteristics. These items are more on the surface and feel free to add to it. My list, should I put it all here, would be extremely lengthy.

  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Ethnic heritage
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Religious beliefs
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite color
  • Physical description
  • Political beliefs
  • Favorite music
  • Style of dress
  • Educational background
  • Description of home
  • Contents of wallet (this can say a lot about a person)
  • Habits

Digging Deeper: Here again, feel free to add your own ideas to this list

  • Strong character trait
  • Weak character trait
  • Best childhood memory
  • Worst childhood memory
  • One line summary of their personality
  • What triggers certain moods
  • What is their ambition
  • Sense of humor
  • What is his/her greatest hope
  • Character’s paradox
  • How does he/she see himself or herself
  • Philosophy of life
  • Character flaw (This is essential to the story because at one point he/she realizes this flaw and is able to overcome it. That’s integral in creating their character arc and accomplishing the story goal)

I keep this list written down in my binder and on my computer. It serves me well throughout the writing of my book. I add to it along the way too. Have fun with it.

Character Name: I created the details of my character before I came up with a name. By doing this I was better able to find a name that suited the description of my character. Some names elicit certain unspoken character traits. At least they do to me. For one of my male characters I ended up changing his name two times. I wasn’t happy with his character, so I tweaked it and changed some things, like his reaction to certain events and people. Then I found a better name that fit. You will have your own way of plugging away through this process. That’s good. Make it your own and happy creating.


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