You’ve heard me talk about how important characters are when you’re writing a story, but the next question is how do you create those amazing characters that will sell your story to your readers/viewers/listeners?
The first thing you need to know up front is that it’s not easy to create good characters. It takes tons of time and effort because you are essentially creating actual people! However, as I’ve written about in another post, the payoff is incredible. Once you have good characters, you can pretty much do anything with your story and people will like it. (But please also have a good plot and stuff.)
A good way to begin creating a character, if you don’t already have a template in mind, is to use somebody you know or a fictional character you’re familiar with as a starting point. Obviously, you don’t want to exactly copy anyone, but it’s a good springboard into creating your unique character.
Next, it’s time to start fleshing this character out. Knowing their name and where they come from isn’t enough; you need to know this person inside and out. If they’re not real to you, they won’t be real to your audience! Luckily, you don’t necessarily have to start from square one with this. There are some great resources out there to help you get to know every detail about your character! Here are just my favourite two:
No matter how you feel about taking these types of tests yourself (I personally don’t like them), the enneagram descriptions are good bases to use when creating characters. Simply pick a type that sounds interesting to you and study up on it! Each type also lists famous people who have matched that certain enneagram type, so you can look some of those people up to get an even better idea of how that type generally behaves.
This template will force you to know your character inside and out! While you do have to submit your email to actually download the template, you can also just copy and paste all the questions into a document and fill it out.
You might take a look at this and think that it’s too much, but let me tell you right now that it’s not. While you might not use every single one of these facts in your story (unless this is Twilight and one of your characters spends two whole days asking another a million questions about themselves), it’s good for you to know your character this well. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to believably write them into your story.
There are plenty of other resources out there for you to use! And since you are the writer, you get to choose how much or how little of these you use. If you don’t want to answer all the questions on the template, that’s fine! And you can use these resources for however many characters you want. Usually I only go this far for main characters, but I do use bits of the template for side characters as well.
The important thing is to spend time with your character. If you’re going to be writing from this person’s perspective or writing about their life, you need to know them like they’re family. Otherwise, they’ll be shallow and your readers won’t connect to them.
Now it’s time to create some great characters! Happy writing!