7 Helpful And Fun Ways To Create Characters

Creating characters isn’t always as easy as it seems. Sometimes the characters come to us and other times we have to chase them down.

I do think the creating of characters one of the most fun parts of writing a novel.

Characters go places we’ve never been. Characters can do things we’ve never dreamed of doing. Characters can be similar to us or they can be vastly different.

But how do you create characters that are similar but not exactly the same as the people around you? How can you create characters that have more experience than you in a given field?

7 helpful and fun ways to create characters | Creating fictional characters | Character development | RachelPoli.com

1. Randomize Everything

I have two apps on my iPad: Name Dice and Lists for Writers. The Name Dice is exactly how it sounds. You tap the screen and the dice roll. The first die shows the first name and the second shows the last name. When you’re stuck on naming your character, the Name Dice really help, even if you change it later.

Lists for Writers is also what it sounds like. It has a bunch of lists from names to physical appearance to traits and more for characters. Click on a list and everything will be in alphabetical order. However, there’s a shuffle button. Tap that and use the first three or five items that pop up. There’s your character.

You can also go as simple as getting your own pair of dice or a 20-sided die. If your character’s birthday is important to the story, roll the dice. It’s 1-12, same as the months of the year. You can choose to randomize anything and everything.

2. Base Them On Real People

No, you don’t want to throw everyone you know in your story. Not exactly, anyway.

However, it’s easy to take what you already have and mix it up into something else. You can take bits and pieces of one thing and add in pieces from another. Mix and match people, just like you mix and match your socks.

Start with yourself and someone close to you. What are traits you have that your friend doesn’t and vice versa? How can you mix those together to create a new person?

3. Use Pinterest

I’ve seen so many users on Pinterest create Character Boards. They base a whole board off of one character. They pick out fashion ideas, color palettes, hairstyles, and more. Even if you don’t know where to start, explore Pinterest a bit. Look at other character board or just type in something as simple as “sundresses” and see what catches your eye.

4. Think Outside The Box

Close your eyes. What color comes to mind when you think of yourself? What day of the week would you associate yourself with the most? Are you more like summer or winter? Why?

Comparing yourself to things that are not other human beings shows you a lot about who you are. Now do that with your character, even if you don’t have a character yet. Pick a name and think about what that person may be like.

7 Helpful and fun ways to create characters | Creating fictional characters | Character development | RachelPoli.com

5. Use Your Plot

If you already have a plot made up for your story, use it. What kinds of characters would fit best? What are your characters’ motivations to making the plot move forward? What kinds of people can you see being thrown into that situation?

6. Write Short Stories

Yeah, I know. This seems like more work than anything else. Sometimes the best way to get to know your characters is to just write about them. Write a flash fiction piece using your character and see what s/he does in certain situations. Let the characters create themselves.

7. Use Story Cubes

I’m talking a lot about dice today. Don’t ask me why it’s just fun.

There are these cool sets of dice with pictures and symbols on each side. It’s a game that you roll the dice and make up a story based on what comes up. There’s no set of dice for characters alone, but there’s an “action” set. Besides, I think you can use your imagination and come up with something. Ideas are everywhere.

What are some ways you create your characters? Have you tried any of these ways? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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30 thoughts on “7 Helpful And Fun Ways To Create Characters

  1. Most of the time my characters exist in my mind as silhouettes and start forming as I write. The name dice sounds like a great idea too I think I’ll use that. I suck at names

    • Me too. They of just appear out of nowhere, lol. The name dice are a lot of fun, but I’ll admit I sometimes sit there for a while just rolling and rerolling the dice.

  2. Thanks for this post Rachel! I wish I would have read this before NaNoWriMo last year because I was having trouble with names lol. In going to download those two apps as they sound extremely helpful. My coworker who is a writer as well told me about Pinterest and creating a character board. As I go through the editing process for my novel I will use some of these tips to add more personalization and character content. Thanks again!

    -Luna 🙂

    • I’m glad you found it helpful! I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried making character boards on Pinterest before, but I do want to. I’m sure they’re fun as they are helpful.

  3. Hi Rachel sometimes I can never accurately imagine what a character looks like if I create an abstract. However when I am thinking about my character I sometimes use either celebrities or people I meet in person as my inspiration for their physical appearance. Not all of the people that I write about in my books are beautiful though. Sometimes I do imagine them with differentfeatures or try to imagine a different physical appearance.

    I’d be delighted to know what your thoughts are on that

    Tom

    • I think that’s great. Ideas have to stem from somewhere and real life experiences help. Looking to real life people and alternating their appearance is a good way to let your imagination work.

  4. I let letters come to me and then arrange them into names…..sometimes several arrangements are needed to get exactly the name that I want

Let me know your thoughts!

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