Tuesday, 12 January 2016

creating characters

I've been asked to share a bit of information on what sort of thing I think about when I'm creating a character.

This has developed over the years, and been influenced by the stuff I've come across (and I never kept a note of where I came across it I'm afraid), but here's the details I want for all of my characters. I usually do this before the story, but sometimes someone walks onto the page without any preparation. That usually seems fine at the time, but when I come to a lull, I fill out a character sheet for them, and generally find they're more interesting than I thought (and that can help the story.

These details are of course, just a starting point. I'll jot down other thoughts I have about that character - key things that have happened to before the story, and off-page in the story, what they think about other characters, things like that. It's all good for fleshing them out.

Here are the main points:




Physical characteristics:

What they carry - to remember:

What they carry - for now:

What they want:

What's in the way:

What are they afraid of:

What's their moral code?

External conflicts:

Internal conflicts:

Positive value:

What they'll have to sacrifice:

After that I try to get an idea of what they look like, often using Google searches and Pinterest. Sometimes using actors. I then put together a secret board on Pinterest with all the images for that story collated there. It's good to see how the people work with the other people. I also save a picture to their character profile in my Scrivener file (because I tend to use Scrivener when I'm working on stories).

I'm afraid all my book character examples are currently top secret, but here's some basic details for The Biker in my poem The Edge of Doom, which you can find on Hello Poetry along with some of my other poems. Here.

The Biker, aka Kit Harington in a GQ article you'll find here.
I got this image off Pinterest.
Just to be clear, these are notes about a made up character. NOT KIT HARINGTON.

Name: The Biker

Age: 22

Occupation: One of those famous for being famous people, like TOWIE stars.

Physical characteristics: Gorgeous, a bit short, long hair, beard, muscles. Keeps himself well fit.

What they carry - to remember: wears his Granny's charm bracelet. She looked after him as a kid, he returned the favour in his teens. She died, and now he's sold the house.

What they carry - for now: Stuff for fixing the bike on the road. Spare clothes. 

What they want: To be famous, and rich.

What's in the way: He'll get older, less beautiful, if he's going to make the most of it he has to do it now.

What are they afraid of: Injury, loosing his looks.

What's their moral code? Strike while the iron is hot. You're going to die so you might as well live.

External conflicts: People tend to think he's stupid. Perhaps he is a little, but he doesn't like to be thought such.

Internal conflicts: The Biker is gay, but brought up by a grandmother who didn't hold with homosexuals, and now in a position wherein he must be manly and sexy. He won't entertain the notion, except he does, in the dark.

Positive value: Full of life. Beautiful.

What they'll have to sacrifice: Success or love. True love.

If you're a character creator, what do you use to think about them? And do you fancy giving my Character Sheet a go?