Who is the lady in this photo?
If she was the main character of your story, you'd need to understand her personality. So how do you do it? How do you write a truly amazing character, a character so real you could almost talk to them?
On this page, you'll find three useful methods. Let's start with the first.
What if you have a tiny scrap of a character, and you need to build a full character out of it? It can be hard, which is why I created a CHARACTER SHEET.
All you have to do is skip through the sections until you find some questions that you can answer, fill them out, and build on what you have from there! It's easy, and it can be fun (I'm addicted to making characters just so I can fill out the sheet)! The character sheet is pasted down here, along with my tips for filling it out...
Name: Sometimes, a name will just come to you. If a name doesn't come to you at first, search up "popular names," "unusual names," "beautiful names," "names meaning ___," or something like that.
Species: If your character isn't a human or a normal animal from Earth, it means that you made up a race. Even if you're just building on a species (like a giant green cat with wings) or using a common made-up species (like a dragon), making up species can be tricky. I'm working on a page about making up species.
Age: Try to pick an age range that you're comfortable writing about.
Gender: This is very simple.
Job: I don't mean "job" as much as I mean "what they do in a day." Does your character stay at home and watch over the baby? Do they don a suit of armor and slay evil beasts? Do they retrieve plants from other planets to make (extremely) exotic pizza? Not only does this shape your character, it shapes your plot.
Eyes: This is mostly simple.
Hair: Also pretty simple.
Other Looks: Do they have any scars or scrapes? Are their hands covered in dirt? Do they have a limp?
Clothes: Just describe what your character would wear in a usual day. This can say a lot about your character.
Family: People related to your character who are at least a little bit important to the story.
Friends: Who does your character like? Who does your character hang out with besides family?
Treasured Possessions: What are some things that are really important to them?
Personality: This is probably one of the trickiest things to make up. I suggest filling out the rest of the character sheet before filling out this section. That will give you a better idea of who your character is. If that doesn't help, try to pick at least one trait that fits your character and try to branch out from there.
Backstory: Treat this section like a small story, but remember one thing - your character's backstory has a huge impact on the plot, and most of all, your character itself.
Likes: What are some things that your character likes, and why?
Dislikes: What are some things that your character doesn't really like? Again, remember to ask yourself why.
Skills: Are there any things that your character is good at? What are some of their good qualities?
Weaknesses: What is your character not very good at, and what are some of their qualities that aren't really the most useful?
Ultimate Goal: This can seriously change your story. What is the one thing your character wants most, the one thing they're truly aiming for?
And that's the first method! It's the one I use the most because it's so versatile and can work for so many different character ideas. If you're like me and get your character ideas in short bursts, where all you have of a character is a sentence or two, the character sheet is a great method.
The second method takes more time, but it can help you develop the plot of your story as well. Basically, you make up a random situation and throw your character smack dab in the middle of it. For example, let's say your character's name is Julie and there's a food fight going on in the cafeteria.
The next step is to make up a bunch of ways Julie could react. Does she pretend it's not going on? Does she join in? Does she attempt to eat the food? Does she climb up on a table and shout, "EVERYONE STOP! FOOD FIGHTS ARE STRICTLY AGAINST THE RULES!" Does she hide under a table? Or does she do something else entirely? Pick your favorite Julie reaction.
Every option says something about her personality. Keep going. Either continue with this scene or make up a new scene for Julie to react.
The third method takes even longer. Every time you get a character idea, write it down somewhere. After you have a pretty large amount of character fragments, take some of them and smash them together. Try to create a full-blown character out of what you end up with. This method doesn't always produce the best characters, but it's still a pretty nice method!
Now, let's answer a few questions about creating characters:
When should I use the character sheet?
It depends on what kind of writer you are. I always try to know a character well enough inside my head that I can "talk" to them and know exactly how they would react, so I tend to fill out the character sheet for every character no matter what. Some people don't ever use the character sheet until they've written about half of a story. Most people mainly use character sheets at random points in a tale when they can't understand exactly what to do with a character. There really is no real schedule, though, so use the character sheet whenever you like!
What kind of scenarios should I put my character into?
Do whatever you like. If you want your character to be walking down the street when it starts raining pigs and cupcakes, go ahead. If you want your character to be turned into an ant, go ahead. There's no real limit to what you can choose.
If I like what I write about my character in the random situation, can I turn it into a story?
Of course you can! There's no rule against it. I've started about four different stories that way.
It doesn't seem like the third method would actually create any good characters.
It does, but not always. It can be helpful to train your writing skills. It's also just plain fun to do.
Will I need to revise what I've written about a character?
You'll pretty much always need to revise your work, be it a character or not. As you're writing a story, you might find a few bits and pieces of your character that don't make sense. You'll probably need to change some parts later on.
So is that all I need to know about making characters?
Heck no! You'll always be discovering new things as you write, and you'll never know everything. This is just enough information to get you started. If you keep writing, you'll discover all kinds of unique tips and tricks for yourself. So use these methods as much as you want to, but remember: never stop writing.