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How To Create a Character

You’re ready to start writing a book. The only thing is that means you need to know how to create a character from scratch. Every good story needs at least one character. Some books have hundreds, if not thousands, of characters involved in that fictional world. If you can follow the basics of character creation, then you can add depth to your stories and more opportunities to connect with your readers.

Here are the steps that you’ll want to follow so that you can create a great character for your next story.

#1. Know what your initial scene is going to be.

Your character will initially be defined by the circumstances of placement. The story needs to start somewhere. Even if your story involves the nothingness of space, that’s still an actual location. This is what will set the stage for the character and give them an initial definition for the reader.

#2. Ask about the basics for your character.

Once you’ve set the stage, you’re ready to begin giving your character some definition. This means you’ll want to put on your journalist’s hat (it doesn’t have to be a real hat) and start asking yourself some questions about your character. The basic questions of an interview are enough to get you started.

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Who do you want your character to be? What is their involvement in your narrative? Where are they going? From where did they come? Why are they involved in this story?

Life is made up of little details. Like a college education. If you got a degree from Harvard, that’s considered a greater accomplishment in many fields than a degree from an NAIA school. Give your characters these little details and the connections will continue to grow with your reader.

#3. Allow yourself to be creative.

Assuming you are creating a fictional narrative, it is important to remember that you can be as creative as you want to be with your characters. The only rule that is exists is this: your character must make sense for the story that you’re writing.

So if you were writing a coming of age story about a teenager, it would make a lot of sense to suddenly incorporate a demon dog who has a mission to destroy all cats on Earth. Not every character in a story needs to be human, but the character does need to help drive the narrative forward in some way.

#4. Identify your current needs.

Just about every story needs to have a protagonist – that’s the hero of your tale. Most will also benefit from the appearance of an antagonist – that’s the bad guy (or gal). This conflict between good and evil then turns into a riveting tale that the reader won’t want to put down.

Sometimes just having two characters battle it out can be enough for a story. Then there are times when you’ll need to create secondary characters that support the protagonist or the antagonist. You might even throw in a third set of characters – the enforcers.

Enforcers create the rules that the protagonist and antagonist are supposed to follow. In a world where a superhero battles a villain and destroys a city in the process, the government officials who attempt to hold both parties accountable for their actions are the Enforcers.

Anti-heroes are also a possibility. Jack Sparrow, from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean, is a good example of an anti-hero.

So find your pattern. Settle on the archetype that may be required, and then give your character more definition as you get them settled into the role that they will need to play.

#5. Get the characteristics right.

At this point of the character development process, you’re ready to put in the traits and features that will define your character. This means gender assignment, hair color, habits, addictions, and age – just to name a few. It’s okay to include contradictory features as well because this creates another layer of conflict for the reader to enjoy.

This will lead you to the overall goal you want to the character to be able to experience. Maybe you’re trying to have a character find their soulmate. Or maybe they just need to kick the bad guy (or gal) in the butt as they try to arrest them. It’s all up to you as the writer.

As long as the actions make sense for the characteristics and purpose of the character, you’ll be able to add any number of primary or secondary characters to your next story.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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