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What’s one of the first things you do to create your character? You come up with a name.
Well… Sometimes it’s difficult and I’ll admit I’ll throw in a random name and keep it bolded until I change it later.
For the sake of this post, we’re going to pretend the first thing we always do is name our characters.
A name is the most important thing you can give to your characters. It’s their identity and it separates them from everyone else inside the story and outside. Give them a name your readers will remember and appreciate. When you hear the name Harry Potter, you instantly know who I’m talking about, right?
1. Name Dice
I talked about this app when talking about fun ways to create characters. This is a free app I have on my iPad that does exactly what it says. You tap the screen to roll a pair of dice, one reveals a first name and the other reveals a surname.
It’s a great randomizer when you don’t know what to name your characters. It’ll give you ideas for other characters as well.
Go to your local bookstore or library and pick out some baby naming books. Most of them include genders, origin, and meanings, which is extremely helpful when finding a good name for your character. The baby name book I have even had sections based on “names based on flowers” or “names based on gems” and the like.
3. Baby Name Genie
This is a website where you type in the last name and you can choose or gender if you want. The genie will then find the perfect first and middle name to go along with the last name. You can do this as many times as you like and I always find it a fun way to discover new names.
How do you typically come up with names for your characters? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!
When it comes to writing novels everyone always talks about two major characters: the main character and the bad guy. However, there are so many other characters to consider when writing a novel.
There are side characters, major or minor characters, secondary characters, however, you want to explain it.
If you think about it, your protagonist wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for the help of their supporting characters.
What is a supporting character?
It’s a character in a novel who supports the main character through the plot. They’re not the main focus of the story, but they aid the story in various ways. This can be shown through major or minor characters or secondary characters. Or, maybe a passerby kind of character.
3 examples of supporting characters
The Best Friend
Your main character’s friend may have nothing to do with the plot, but they may get roped into a few things here and there. They’re the perfect opportunity to add a little friction as well. Everyone argues with their best friend and it’ll add one more annoying thing to your main character’s list.
The mentor or teacher is the character who, of course, guides or advises the main character. It may or may not have anything to do with the plot, but most often than not, the main character finds a way to use their teachings to push the plot forward.
The Love Interest
Everyone has a little love in their life and that includes your main character. Sometimes this goes with the plot and other times it doesn’t. Sometimes it even distracts the main character from the plot. Either way, it keeps things interesting.
Treat your supporting cast like any other character.
Supporting characters are just like any other character. The plot just isn’t about them. That’s okay though, they’re still characters who are important to the story.
With that said, be sure to:
Give them a backstory – This doesn’t have to be too in-depth depending on how often they’ll appear in the story, but it helps.
Give them good traits – They must be helping the main character for some reason, right?
Give them bad traits – Everyone makes mistakes. Or, maybe they’re helping for the wrong reasons.
Supporting characters are characters too and they need a lot of attention as well.
What are some of your favorite types of supporting characters? How else do you develop them? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!