Easy Character Creation Through 25 Core Elements

Written by A Guest Author

Sarina Byron

Have you ever discarded manuscript after manuscript owing to a lack of that special something? Everything you write seems to be missing that special zest, that soul and you don’t know what it might be. Well, let me assure you that you are not alone. Every writer has gone through this and there are a finite number of suspects that cause it. The chief among those is a simple yet powerful factor; Character Creation. If your characters lack the depth and force of a real person, your book will struggle to make an impression.

To help you succeed at character creation, I have crafted a comprehensive guide of 5 broad categories encompassing 25 core elements:

Foundation 

The 4 elements to identify first and foremost are your character’s name/nickname, preferred gender, sexual preference, and appearance. This brings characters to life, is essential for every single character, and can be done through various mediums. If you are a visual person, look through magazines, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. to identify an image of your character. Paste a photo and write the 4 elements next to them once you have identified them. If you prefer word pictures, then write all about your character. The more you write about them the more you will come to understand them. If you possess artistic skills, sketch them! Think about the stories your parents told you about how they arrived at your name/nickname and imagine how this character’s parents might have arrived at theirs. Reflect on your own experiments (or lack of) in gender and sexuality and come up with experiences your character may have gone through that shaped their preferences in these matters. Lastly, but most importantly, appearance.

Personality

The creation of scenes and dialogues requires you to know your characters intimately. If you do not know them, their behavior will feel inconsistent as the story progresses and make it hard for the reader to empathize with them. In this section I offer you 15 personality traits that you need to nail down for the central characters. The first thing to consider is their everyday habits like journaling, food preferences, and musical inclinations. The next would be to consider how your character likes to present themselves socially; are they a leader or a follower? Do they like the safety of belonging to a group or would they rather stand apart from the crowd? Next, identify their fears/pet peeves, joys, character flaws, talents and obsessions. Add layers to your characters through these details.  Having gone to these depths, you should now find it easy to identify whether your character prefers to plan everything or be spontaneous, what their prized possessions are, what their handwriting looks like, how they view themselves and how they view others. Together, these 15 along with the 4 foundation character traits will begin to come together like a flower bud.

Work

Once the inner petals of the character flower bud have been formed you can move on to the 2 elements of the character’s work; what they do for a living and what their ambitions are. You might wonder why this comes after the personality, as work dominates our days, and you are right. Work may dominate our days but we take our personality into work so until you know who your character is in life, you won’t know who they are at work. Use the personality traits, ambitions, and nature of work of your character to define how much they love or dislike the job. Showing a character at work helps to emphasize and build upon behaviors essential to the story. Make use of this as much as possible!

Family History

Remember the crazy uncle, aunt, and cousin of Harry Potter? They were so annoying but oh so essential. Everyone loves to read about arrogant, rude, and mean characters that are proven to be just that by the hero. It increases the heroism of the hero to belong to a mixed pack. Use the 2 family angles of parents & siblings and significant family members to emphasize the virtues of your character. Family is also an avenue where a lot of trauma can be built in, as this is the group with which we are most vulnerable. No elevator pitch, behavioural armor, or any such protection works. So, use this group to take your character to unexplored depths and your story to new heights.

Life Circumstances

Finally, bring all that together to add 2 small but essential details; where your character lives and what their main mode of transport is. Where we live has more to do with what we think of ourselves rather than what we can afford. People with a higher self-esteem will always live in historically affluent areas, homes with ample space, nice fittings and furnishings, neat spaces that smell good, and drive well-kept cars. A well-organized home shows that people respect their time enough to keep things where they can easily find them. If your character lives somewhere that isn’t practical for driving, choose the mode of transport picked by someone of their caliber and ambitions. A general rule of thumb is that one takes a bus when one has more time or it offers a direct drop at the destination, a train is most suitable for quick travel between well connected areas, and ride shares for when one needs to avoid the distractions of public travel and make a smart entrance.


Bio: Sarina Byron is a California based writer whose work has been published in Introvert, Dear, Thrive Global, Walker’s Legacy, Book Series Recaps and a variety of other publications. Sarina covers lifestyle, fashion, business, well-being, book reviews and writing techniques in her writing. Follow her on Instagram @sarinatrodriguez for more

 

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