Creating characters can be a daunting task if you have no plan in place to guide you. Especially if you have more than a few characters and plan to continue on to a series. Planning their internal and external makeup will help to keep your characters original and unique.
Below are some techniques/questions I use when creating my characters. Please feel free to use this information along with the worksheet provided below for your own characters.
Before you start thinking of your character as a full blown person, you should ask yourself some much needed questions. Now, this is what I do in a sense (I follow the outlined character sketch attached) but here is a more in-depth description.
Now, if you have an idea of what your character will look like by all means, fill in that information. Some of my characters I have an idea of what they will look like before even giving them a name. If not, let dive in so we can create a fantastic character!
Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking of your characters. This relates to main characters as well as secondary characters.
Note: I will refer to my book Raylynn, the first book in the Conquer E.S. Series as examples.
What have they gone through?
What events have brought them to where they are at the beginning of your story? What has lead them to the position they hold or the quest they are about to embark on? What cause and affect relate to the events now crossing the path of your characters?
Ex. As the story begins it tells how Raylynn has grown up being told the accident that stole her memories was the result of a simple car crash, but she is about to find out that, that is not the case as an event causes the memories to flood back into view.
What are they trying to accomplish?
What is your character trying to accomplish throughout the story? Is it emotional satisfaction? A journey of revenge? A quest for peace and closure? What does your character want by the end of their journey?
Ex. Raylynn has believed she was in a car accident, but when she finds out that her accident was something far more horrific, she becomes determined to exact revenge for what really happened.
Who are their friends and family?
Give their family and friends names and ages even if they are not in the story. This will give you a better idea of how your character will react around those they interact with.
Ex. Raylynn has a brother who she sees often and has kept the real events of her memory loss a secret. Knowing my character will tell me if she will show anger, sadness, frustration, or forgiveness when he finally explains why he kept such vital information to himself.
What do they do for a living?
What occupation will they have? And how will it impact the story as it plays out?
Ex. To be honest, Raylynn was originally intended to be the secretary of a large firm, but eventually and by choice of the character while writing, she decided to become a nurse at the local hospital instead, which explains her role further along the story as well as within the series.
Are they human, half human, another species entirely?
This I believe gets put on the wayside when creating characters of the fantasy/paranormal realm. I fully believe what your character is (if not human) should also be mapped out before writing to flesh out quirks, abilities and emotions/reactions associated with the Other as the story/journey progresses.
Ex. Raylynn discovers that she not only holds that of a fox shifter within her DNA, but also that of another surprise species she is just learning to adapt to by the end of book 1. Her actions and emotions resemble that of the fox she holds within, which is a vital part of who she is.
What are their quirks/abilities?
What quirks, abilities, habits, mannerisms does your character have as a person as well as their Other (if applicable)? Do they react or have quirks like tapping their fingers when in deep thought, running their hands through their hair when frustrated, or babbling/biting their nails when nervous? If they are of another species, what characteristics show through?
Ex. Since Raylynn is a fox shifter her body adapts as such. Her quirks and abilities consist of stretching her fingers, the ability to move her ears and nose, heightened sense of smell and sound.
What are their flaws/pet peeves?
What qualities do they posses that make them appear realistic? No one is perfectly created without flaw, so what flaws do your character posses? What things do they find irritating, annoying, frustrating?
Ex. Raylynn is very insecure at first, fidgety and paranoid. She also hates when others continually tap on surfaces and snap their gum.
Are there any unique qualities to their description?
Does your character have any distinguishing marks or qualities about them?
Ex. Although Raylynn was born with brown hair and brown eyes, when her fox shows through her appearance shows deep red hair and amber eyes. Along with the uncontrollable appearance of claws on occasion among other aspects of the fox.
What conflicts are they trying to overcome?
This should be specific with internal and external conflicts? What is happening on the inside and outside that is getting in the way of your character accomplishing their goals within the story?
Ex. Raylynn has to deal with the fact that her family lied about her accident even if it was to protect her while having events of her past rear their ugly heads to cause more conflict to her everyday life.
There are many more aspect of a character you can flesh out, but I believe these to be some of the more important ones.
If you’re looking for a guide to assist in fleshing out your characters click HERE to download the template I use in Scrivener or the PDF version.
If you are dying to read Raylynn now that you’ve had your interest peeked, you can download it for FREE HERE!
What is one thing you believe is important when developing a character? Something I could add to this list? Share it below!