Characters are not something I enjoy creating.
Let me rephrase that. I enjoy making characters, but I don’t have the patience to fully mould 3 dimensional characters before I start writing.
I’m a firm believer that you get to know your characters while you write, and that spending hours filling in character questionnaires with questions like ‘what is their greatest fear,’ or ‘if they saw someone drowning in the ocean, what would they do?’ are often counter productive.
As humans, our personality and beliefs and morals can change. We might think we’d act one way in a certain situation, but until we’re faced with that situation we don’t know for sure.
So I go about creating my characters slightly differently. I use what I like to call the 1-2-3 method, which gives me the basics of my characters personality, and then fill in a few basic questions and go from there.
A characters personality are born from a number of things in their past- their nurture, their family and their friends. And personality changes depending on who you’re hanging out with. Your best friend will see one side to you, your family another, and acquaintances from school or work yet another one. But there will always be a foundation to your personality, and that is what the 1-2-3 method is for.
1 value- the thing your character deems most important.
2 flaws- negative aspects of their personality.
3 traits- positive aspects of their personality.
It’s important to state that these elements of your characters personality are what drives their decisions. It’s what causes conflict within the novel. Where possible, your characters should have conflicting personality traits and flaws to up that tension even more.
After I’ve done this, I answer the following questions:
Life growing up
The reason I answer these after creating their personality is because I find it easier. I have an untrustworthy character? What happened in their past to make them untrustworthy? It’s easier for me rather than thinking of their past and then deciding what personality traits stemmed from that.
How do you guys create your characters?
Good thoughts and happy writing!