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?
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.
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.
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.