Saturday, June 19, 2010

Character Creation

. Saturday, June 19, 2010

Your character is the most important element of your story. With character creation the old saying is true, you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. Tragedy breeds drama but so too can plain old boredom.

The easy part of creating an engaging character is choosing:

1. Name
2. Physical traits
3. Personal habits / unique features
4. Family ties
5. Predominately good or evil

But these five just create your character’s skeletal system. Now we have to fill her in. And that is the hard part. To give your character personality you have to pack in all the spaces the above characteristics leave empty. The easiest way to do this is to answer Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

1. Name
    a. Who named her?
    b. What is the meaning of her name?
    c. Where does her name come from / where was her name signed on her birth certificate?
    d. When was the birth certificate issued?
    e. Why did her parents choose her name?

2. Physical traits
    a. Who does she resemble?
    b. What is her self-image?
    c. Where does she shop for clothes/what type of clothes?
    d. When did she hit puberty, have plastic surgery, get that scar?
    e. Why does she look, dress, carry herself in the manner that she does?

3. Personal habits / unique features
    a. Who did she inherit her habits from?
    b. What emotions are her habits associated with?
    c. Where do her habits manifest (home, with family, at work)?
    d. When did she develop her habits?
    e. Why did she develop her habits (past experiences)?

4. Family ties
    a. Who is her family (not just immediate)?
    b. What are they like, dominate characteristics (positive/negative, functional/dysfunctional)
    c. Where do they live now, where were they from?
    d. When did they become a family (trace them back a ways)?
    e. Why did they become a family (love, need, obligation, convenience)?

5. Predominately good or evil
    a. Who do they see themselves as (good / evil, are the self aware at all)?
    b. What are their good / evil personality traits?
    c. Where do their good / evil traits affect your character (situations)?
    d. When did the good / evil personality traits emerge (at birth, childhood, past or recent tragedy)?
    e. What the dominate circumstances that made them good / evil?

All of the answers to these questions make up who your character was, is, and will be at the end of your story. Your character needs a detailed and eventful past, a life that makes them who they are at the beginning of your story so that the reader sees how they change by the end.


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