Back when my husband was visiting from Australia (before we were married) we were driving in the hot desert outside of Las Vegas. We were talking about different ideas and one came up about creating characters and showing people how to create their own from the examples.
I feel like some of the best ideas come while on road trips. There is just something so magical, freeing, and inspiring about going someplace new. Our whole conversation got me thinking, and I’ve decided to start a blog series on this, called Character Conversations.
First off, I want to start with some important tips for writing characters and then I will share my first Character Conversations character with you all.
In each Character Conversations post, I will share with you, how I created the character. What I used as inspiration and ideas so that you can turn around and implement those tips to help you create your own characters.
Each writer has an area of strength and I’ve talked to a few who have asked me about my detailed descriptions and my characters. So, I know this is something that people struggle with. Especially if you are more intrigued about writing plot driven stories instead of character driven. I love writing stories that are driven by characters and editors/agents/readers love a story with a strong character—good or evil.
4 Things To Keep In Mind While Creating Your Characters
- Your characters are real. Give them real wants and real flaws.
- People watch with a pen and paper in hand. Go someplace with a notebook and pen. Sit down and watch people. Just spend some time writing physical descriptions down. Write down facial expressions, clothes, confidence, and anything else you can see.
- Ask yourself the right questions. Many writers go to the character sketch before they even know their characters. I’ve never really liked that about character sketches. If you don’t even know your character yet, how are you going to answer those questions? So instead I opt for you asking yourself the right questions to start off with.This makes me think of a time when I was in Australia at a Character workshop and there was another lady there who was participating in the class and she asked, “So who is really talking when you write through your characters. Is it you? Or your character?” So you can see how there is a bit of confusion when it comes to characters.But if you take a little time to wonder and think about your character you’ll have a lot less trouble when it comes to soaking into her or his shoes when you are writing. Take your character notebook with you to your writing desk and ask yourself “How can I combine these physical descriptions and features into a character for a story or book?
- A word of caution. Be careful if a real person inspired a made-up character. I’ve heard of writers who have been sued over things like that. So if you want to write a character who might have similar characteristics as a person you know, then be sure to change it up enough that they would never know it was them.
Now, since we have the tips out in the open, let’s create a character.
I went out and did a little people watching as well.
Step #1: Come up with the character list.
This is the list I came up with: (remember, when you do this, you might be watching one person or many people. Take ideas from everywhere.)
- frizzy hair tied up in a short pony tail that sticks out of her head like a palm tree in the back.
- rough skin
- eye-glasses on the tips of her nose.
- shifting eyes
- a secretary
- a fan of gossiping
Step #2: What story do you want to tell?
(Write a character story sentence. This will tell who she/he is, what they want, and what their purpose is in the story.)
With this character, I can see her being the Demon Secretary In Hell. She takes her job extremely carefully, and she loves hearing the juicy gossip to tell the Office Demons she works with. She is the Devil’s secretary, except he could care less.
Once you write down your character story sentence, you can start writing.
Step #3: Start writing your character.
Edith Blackridge took her job seriously as she scribbled in her scrawling handwriting on the H.E.L.L admittance forms. They’d been getting plenty of new members. A glob of slime fell from the cavernous ceiling above and onto her desk with a splat. She humphed while pushing her glasses up further onto her greenish nose. Her hair was a knot of grey and black hair.
This was happening more than it wasn’t and she’d complained about it already. That janitor better get better at his job or else the boss isn’t going to be happy, she grinned while turning to look at the office door behind her. A sign hung on it, with blood red writing, which said: Satan.
Now, it’s your turn!
Step #1: Come up with a character list.
Step #2: What story do you want to tell? (Write a character story sentence. This will tell who she/he is, what they want, and what their purpose is in the story.)
Step #3: Start writing your character.
Each time you do this, you will come up with a different character and if you are using this exercise to come up with characters in a book that you are currently writing, think about what the purpose for the character is in the larger scheme of things.
How will they either help or cause more pain for your protagonist. There has to be a reason to have the character on the page.
Did you do the exercise? If so, answer the three questions in the comments section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.
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