Character Creation, The How To

Hi Jim,
I’ve been working on my story for a while, but am having trouble coming up with new characters. I was wondering if you had any advice about how you create yours? By the way, I am a huge fan of Vlad from Soul Siphon. I love how you made him a salty old Soviet Commie!
Thanks,
Ty

Hi Ty,

 

Glad you liked Soul Siphon. Thanks for your support. So character creation is always a tricky subject. How do you create new and interesting characters that are relatable.

Personally, for a while I just created blank slate characters and just have them grow as they react to different situations. This… worked for a little while, but honestly the characters were quickly coming out all with similar personalities. It became apparent that I had to try something else.

So in a few cases, I started creating characters that were similar to people I’ve encountered in my life. I tried to emulate people I liked in certain roles and people I didn’t in others. That worked for a while, but you have to be very careful. You don’t want to make it too obvious who you’re writing about… especially if you plan on killing off the character.

When I write about people from history like Mary Kelly, I do as much research as I can into their historical persona and build a personality for them based on their documented decisions and behaviors. This is actually really fun. Researching history is something I’ve always found incredibly rewarding. The result with Mary Kelly was a very dynamic character with over 100 years of bitterness and righteous anger to her name.

After a while, I decided to start creating characters with generic backstories and save them for future use. Jagger (Drakin), Vlad (Soul Siphon), Raiya (Drakin), and Andrea (Drakin), were all generic characters that I added more in depth back stories to and had them react to the situations as they came up. The story then began to grow around how these characters reacted to their situations.

So in the end… I really haven’t created new characters in a while. I have a whole library of generic characters saved and ready to go in whatever I start writing next. It’s not a bad way to go about writing.

I hope this helps. Readers, how do you create characters in your stories? Do you have any advice for Ty? Let them know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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8 thoughts on “Character Creation, The How To

  1. I start by thinking of people I know then change them or merge a few together.

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  2. Laura Beth says:

    I’ve based several characters off of myself, and people I know. I definitely change the names, though.

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    • StCyril says:

      Sometimes the names aren’t enough. I had a friend read one of my stories a long time ago and was like, “Hey wait a minute… this guy hangs out at the irish pub, has a thick accent, brown hair, and a leather jacket… and you kill him off… YOU SON OF A…!!”

      He was actually pretty good about it, but I had to try a lot harder after that.

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  3. A.I. Alex says:

    I rarely build up my characters based on people I know (or maybe I do it involuntarily). Most of the times I just go with the flow, discover them like I would discover a new person, see how they react in different situations and let their own actions define them. It seems to work for now but I know I still have much to work on, but your post make me think from a new perspective. I’m not much for history, but taking historical personalities and mirroring them in a story with a particular plot and a different name sounds quite exciting! I might try that! 😀

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    • StCyril says:

      To be clear, I didn’t give them different names.
      In Soul Siphon, I wanted one of my heroes to be a legitimately known historical killing. Mary Jane Kelly, the last Jack the Ripper victim fit the bill perfectly.

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  4. […] – get the chapters right Sarah A. Hoyt – Writing About Death James Harrington – Character Creation Brenda Davis Harsham – Top Ten Blogging Rules D. E. Haggerty – How to get the writing […]

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  5. Some good options to try the next time I’m stuck for a character – thanx Jim!
    As for my own characters, most of what I’ve written has been short fiction, and for that my characters grow out of the plot or situation almost fully formed, and don’t usually require a lot of exploration or expansion. The characters in only novel I’ve been working on started out the same way but the size of the world and the story meant far more characters,and so I have to work harder to distinguish between them. Character interviews, and recording details, and rewriting and revising the characters…

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