Creating and Planning Characters

I posted on social media last week about how you come up with your character’s names and that got me thinking how I create and plan my characters. And because I love to share, I thought I would post it here to provide an inside to my thought process and possibly help those who are struggling in some areas.

So, let’s dig in.

Naming my Characters:

When I start a new story, I tend to have an idea for the main character in mind before the story actually starts or is planned out. What they look like, their personality, etc. Whether the character is timid and will grow in strength, or they are strong, but realize that showing weakness makes them human. Or maybe something different all together.

So, then comes naming my character(s). I really don’t like writing a story and not knowing my character’s name. It seems so impersonal. So, I think of a name and I tend to use the same technique to come up with their identity.

Letter(s):

I tend to, well I can’t say tend to, because I alway have a letter or a few letters in mind for the beginning of the first name. It’s hard to explain how that works, but I think of the characters, how I want them to be portrayed throughout the story, and a letter usually presents itself.

I will use the characters of my Conquer Series for examples:

  • R – Raylynn
  • B – Blessing
  • J – Jazzmine
  • B – Brandon
  • J – Jynx
  • K- Knight

Syllables:

As with the letters, I usually know how many syllables the character’s name will have. Most do have two syllables with a nickname, while others have one or even three. Again, I can’t explain this, but I know how I want the names to work, so why not know their syllables? 😉 I didn’t realize it, but most of the names fit the characters so well they actually tell something about the characters.

Examples:

Raylynn, who’s nickname is Ray can be a “ray of light” (You’ll have to read it to get that one 😉 )

Blessing, who doesn’t realize she is not a nuisance or burden, she is a blessing

Jazzmine, well her personality fits her nickname.

And these were totally unintentional!

Visuals:

My next step is to find a visual for my characters, a picture to put with the name. I use sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels to find my photos, because most likely I’ll be using them to create their covers and photos from those site are completely royalty free.

Here are some example of photos I’ve found and how I used them:

Raylynn:

b7830-jazzmine2bfinal-2        pexels-photo-247203

Jazzmine:

1da18-jazzmine2bfinal        girl-2097003_1920

I may change their features a bit to fit the character better, but usually there isn’t much that needs to change. They are quite similar to what I’m looking for in my characters.

Physical Description:

This is one area I do stick to the norm and fill out a list of descriptive qualities such as:

  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Build
  • Skin tone
  • Distinct feature(s)
  • Clothing
  • Age

Visit my Writing-Education or Writing- Character Inspiration pinterest page for great ideas to help in these areas!

Personality:

This is another area I have a list for:

  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • Personal Goals
  • Struggles/Challenges
  • Accomplishments
  • Future Expectations
  • Future Reality
  • Internal and External conflicts
  • Quirks
  • Flaws
  • Secrets
  • Pet peveves
  • Personality type (I use the list from 16personalities.com)
  • Character archetype (I use The 12 Common Archetypes by Carl Golden)
  • One more thing I add to this category is their Ability. Most of my characters have some sort of power that makes them who they are so I mention that here.

Now the characters may not fit the personality or archetypes exactly, but that gives you a chance to use that as weaknesses or lessons they’ll learn throughout your story.

Habits/Mannerisms:

This is where I list quirks, things they do that make them… them. Make them real. (Link previous post) Things like running their hands through their hair, tapping their chin, tapping their fingers when their arms are crossed. Maybe they carry something with them always or rely on something for security.

Background:

Here is where you can add things like:

  • Family
  • Ethnicity
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Brief Life History
  • This is where I like to give a little about how they ended up where they currently are when the story begins as well.

Looking Forward:

This is where I like to give a little about the Character and where they will end up at the end of the book. It’s not a bad I idea to know where your characters will be by the end of their tale.

 

So, what are your thoughts? Anything I don’t have you think I should? What do you have and how do you plan your characters? I would love to hear from you!

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