Friday, 19 February 2016

Writers on: Creating indepth Characters

When I was a kid, just starting out as a writer, my dad bought me a book that had a whole section that to this day I still use when creating a new character. Its like a secret FBI dossier on them that helps you lay out who they are.

The basic stuff comes first, you decide their name and their general appearance. Hair colour? Eye colour? Height? Weight? Then you can make it more interesting like adding things that make them unique, like a scar above their eyebrow, a tattoo on their pinkie toe and unfortunate attraction to clothes in the colour beige.

Then it asks you to think about their family and their background. Are they an only child? Do they come from a single parent household? Where they raised by a grandparent or in foster care? Do they have siblings? Laying out their family history allows you to create their life before your novel begins, some of the best books I've read make you believe that this world and its people were going around before this event happened that was so monumental it had to be a book. Having this background could help make the character more solid, tell you how they got that scar above their eyebrow or why they got that tattoo.

The last thing it asks you to look at is education and employment. What kind of school did they go to? If it was a catholic school was it normal or taught by scary nuns. If scary nuns does the character now have a pathological fear of nuns, a great respect or hatred for them. Did they always know what they wanted to be? Did they study hard to achieve it? Did they work part time jobs to pay for college? Or did they go straight from high school, into a string of jobs before landing where they are now.

All these things become intricate puzzle pieces that make your character. Little things that come together to show you the bigger picture.

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