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Character creation will be at the heart of your story writing and it’s a topic so complex that I know I can’t possibly cover every angle of it in a single blog post. But I want to share a few tips and tools with you for getting the right general structure for your character, and then refining them into a rounded and realistic person.

The Basics

Usually, the story premise will be the first thing you consider in your writing process. It’s no good for you to map out the character of a gritty single mother, only to end up writing a teen fantasy set on the plant Xan. But once you have a general idea of what your plot and setting will be, you can start to think about a protagonist that will best fit in this world.

Maybe that character would work if her name was Garthrax. -Image by Rooners Toy Photography

Maybe that character would work if her name was Garthrax.
-Image by Rooners Toy Photography

There will be some obvious questions to answer first. Are they male or female? How old? What is their name? And, to a certain extent, what do they look like? Those are likely the first decisions that come to mind. But at this stage, you may want to consider certain traits that will be particularly pertinent to your story. For example, if the central plot follows the loss of the protagonist’s husband, you would want to think about their previous experience with grief. Have they ever lost someone close to them before? Are they a very emotional person? Do they build relationships quickly? Try to think of the relevant plot points in your own story and ask yourself some related questions.

Interview Your Character

The internet is teeming with great lists of questions to throw at your character; I particularly recommend this one from The Write Practice. It can be useful to type this up with dialogue as this will give you the opportunity to develop your character’s voice as well as their personality. So an example exchange might look like this:

Interviewer: What would you consider the most overrated virtue?

Dreadnaught the Destroyer: Mercy, pitiful human! Your weak nature will leave you crushed beneath the weight of my wrath. WRAGGHHH!

Once you have answered a few of these, go back, read it, and decide if you want to make any changes. Over the course of the interview, you should learn something new about your character and they will become more rounded.

Situations

Now that you have a good idea of who your character is, give them a test run with a few vignettes. These are short stories of a few hundred words that follow a usually simple plot. You might describe your characters walk to work, or show them struggling to open a pickle jar. It can be whatever you want; just make sure to keep your interview answers in mind at this stage so you can come up with the right reaction to a situation.

The age-old struggle. -Image by Dom Dada

The age-old struggle.
-Image by Dom Dada

Once you are happy that you have a fully rounded character, you can start your manuscript proper. If you jump in too early, your character may develop over the course of the story, but it is likely that they will fall flat towards the start and you will end up rewriting. Better to get your character in fighting shape before you start.

If you have found this article useful, please click like and follow, and look out for my next article on vignette writing.

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