Lessons of Character Creation

I have learned:

  • Do not base it off someone you know. Instead, a character is best if molded by a myriad of someones, including strangers, such as unique mannerisms, facial expressions, reactions, but if you attempt to use someone you already know, you are a) not taking advantage of your imagination; b) you will become stuckstuckstuck, several times.
    • Why is it so hard? My assumption for its limitations is because you most likely have never seen the chosen person in the external plot you’ve come up with. Trying to stick within the confinements of their personality is tricky. Too fixed.
    • Even if that character is based off you, it is far easier to throw a newly crafted character in a familiar situation, rather than it is to do it the other way around.
  • It helps to interview your characters. Find unique questions and “ask” them; document it all.
    • These answers may not necessarily appear in your novel, but they will help understand your character’s innate reactions to the situations and conversations you do throw them into.
    • Sample questions I’ve asked my characters: What are your pet-peeves? How would you react in a bank if a robber walked in? What would you say to a friend going through a divorce? What are your strengths and limitations when it comes to working/school/house tasks?
  • Once your character is fully discovered and developed, he or she will drive your story easily. Like playing with figures as a child. You don’t see children stop and think about what their imaginative characters will say or do, they just do it.
    • The character knows herself, and when you embody that character, you will intuit what she’d say or would not say, how she would act or not act in a particular situation.
  • Make sure there are both qualities to like and dislike, relate to and learn from. Give them complexity like any human. Don’t be afraid to give them unattractive, unlikable traits that work against them. That’s what keeps the story going, what keeps a character relatable and genuine.
    • I was afraid to give my characters negative traits at first, and realized it stemmed from my personal insecurity of fearing others disliking me. But the biggest lesson in life I remind myself of, is if you try to please everyone, you become inauthentic and lose yourself in the process!
    • SHOWING a character have that same insecurity would only be human, instead of making them appear perfect (aka boring and unrealistic) without displaying the hidden contradictions to lend them intriguing layers upon layers.

Hope the lessons I’ve picked up can help you in your character creation as well!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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