Creating a Character
So, while I was thinking about what my next article should be about, especially after the plot bunny fiasco, I started to think about my next batch of characters and I thought, hmm why not write about those? After all, it isn’t the plot bunny the reader experiences when it picks up a book, that horror is solely for the author’s enjoyment. No, the reader experiences the story through the characters.
Now, there are many different types of characters an author can write about. There are the usual Main Characters, MCs, also known as the hero of the story. There’s the villains, my favorite part of writing. Then there are supporting characters, background cast, and cannon fodder.
I’m going to be breaking the characters up into separate articles, but for now let’s just talk about the creation of a character.
This process doesn’t require nearly as much death, destruction, and gladiator games as my plot bunny elimination process. Sorry, no questioning my psyche in this article.
The best way I have to describe my process for making a character is similar to an artist sculpting a statue. First, you pick your medium! Clay, marble, steel maybe? Perhaps you use something similar to a video game character generator? Once you’ve decided what your character will be made out of, for this I’m going to say clay, you start to shape his or hers physical appearance.
I write MM romance, so most of the time my characters are male. I’ll be sticking to that for this walk through.
Start with the basics when sculpting your clay man, how tall is he? Is he average height, tall, short? I like tall men, but not that tall, so I’m going to say this character is going to be 6’4”. Next, body type! Is he a swimmer? Body builder? Home body? Solider? I’m thinking ex-solider, a marine to be exact. So, he’s 6’4” and an ex-marine. That takes care of my next step, hair! Sometimes the hair step isn’t so easily answered and you have to think, does your man have long hair? Short? Mid-length? Curly? Wavy? Straight?
Okay, I now know that my character is a 6’4”, an ex-marine so he’s fit, and he’s got short hair. Next, I turn to his face. This includes facial hair, eyes, nose, lips, eyebrows, and ears. Anything that would be a defining feature on our clay man.
The character is an ex-marine, so he’s not going to have too much facial hair, at most a well-trimmed goatee, but I’m envisioning more of a clean-shaven man. Eyes? Round, and green. Hair color, something not decided by his job, let’s say sandy blond to light brown. His hair is short, so it’s hard to tell exactly. His eyebrows though will be light brown. Lips? Well, I’m a romantic so let’s go with kissable, lower lip slightly plumper than the top. Nose, average.
We’ve got a clear picture of our character’s physical appearance now. I would normally take the time to decide on any other details that would appear physically. Scars, tattoos, piercings, and perhaps callouses. Our character is an ex-marine so maybe he’s got a tat on his shoulder of the Marine insignia of an eagle, the globe, with the initials USMC. That would round him out.
Time for the fun part! Let’s cut our ex-marine’s head open! I mean that figuratively, or do I? The most important part of making a character is figuring out who that character is. What makes this ex-marine tick? Honor? Glory? Self-desires?
Once you’ve got a few core elements pinned down, start thinking up his history. Now, don’t jump the gun here. Your plot bunny, you know that gutsy little fuck that’s bouncing around telling you to write this guy’s story? Yeah, him. He should have the information you need to fill in those blanks. If not, your plot bunny is incomplete and you need to start playing doctor Frankenstein and piece that evil fluff ball together!
At this point you should have a character, with motives and a history to flesh him out. It is important that you have your character fleshed out before you start writing his story! If you don’t, it is going to be a pain to get them to follow their plot.
The final step in making a character? Naming them! Or, this can also be the first step. I tend to switch it up. Sometimes the name comes to me first, and the rest comes later. Other times, the character’s appearance and who he is develops first, like in this article. Of course, sometimes when your plot bunny arrives your characters are fully formed and ready to be written.
Remember, no matter what the characters and their conflicts are the MCs should be your central force in your stories. You can have the best plot bunny jumping around in your head but if your characters aren’t interesting you’re dead in the water. If no one is there to pilot that plot it’ll just float aimlessly on by.
Bonus round! Say you’ve got a few idea for an MC tossing around in your head and you can’t narrow it don’t. They’re similar, enough to be twins or triplets, but not similar enough to be the same person. What do you do? Well, you could always just give each version their own story, but where’s the fun in that? No, this is a bonus round which means… yep death battle!
Give those clones a weapon and tell them to kill each other off! The last character standing is your new MC.
Of course you could always go the boring route and just turn your characters into siblings, but was that part of their background information? A whole new can of worms has just been opened now!
It’s easier to just make them off each other. Less hassle in the long run.
What steps do you have for creating your characters?
*All images found via Google Image search. If you recognize an image, and it is yours, please message me so I can credit you.