Hello, fellow campaigners of the writing world! Have you ever wanted to know how to make characters? Me, too, haha. But since I’m no guru, I wanted to just share with you my process of creating characters.
The Big Idea
Usually, I have an idea of the character before I even write or plot. I have vague concepts like how they look or how they act or even sometimes I know their character arc.
For example, with THOHP, the character that has stayed the same throughout every version is Wally Rickman (though in draft one, he had a different last name). I knew I wanted a redhead love interest back in 2016, but since then, he has grown into something much more.
Now, I want to talk about the idea for Janet from my UNCITIZENS project. She was nameless for a long time (since her creation in either late 2019 or early 2020), but I had the idea and concept of her which has grown and shifted over time. The idea for her was just a planet tour guide (her infamous opening line, “Hello! Welcome to planet Riirii X’Eaa. We’re so glad you’re here!” was what sparked the original idea for the book along with the concept of a planet getting destroyed by a flapjack). I knew she was defective, but I didn’t decide on anything until later.
As much as I hate it, some characters develop over time. And honestly, as time passes, some characters are scrapped, too. I scrapped two characters in THOHP, merging them together with other people, and I’ve done that before with my first finished novel (I deleted a character halfway into writing it since she was just there and the added drama wasn’t even needed).
Regarding Wally, he grew to be a dual POV in 2020 but was changed to be a secondary character without his own POV (though he is honestly an MC because of his character arc and impact on the story). And as I’ve written him, he has progressed into a flawed, but admirable character (in my eyes). And HATTIE on that note was so hard to get. She went through three different names, and many personalities, but I’ve finally got her down. Her motives and fears have been realized and her persona is down. MBTI personality types have definitely helped with that (Hattie is INTJ and Wally is ISFJ).
And regarding Janet from my sci-fi saga, this robot started as just a tour guide to now a crucial character in the story. I thought she’d just be a comedic character they’d meet once on a planet and move on, but as time and writing progressed, I found I loved her too much to toss aside. Now, she has motivations of revenge and a lot more page time. And the sass. I love it.
Just Write It
Sometimes, the only way to nail a character is to write them. And not always succeed. Writing helps get into the character’s head and sometimes you don’t know what the character wants until you write it. And sometimes, it might contradict what you wrote before (that’s what editing is for), but that’s okay. Mistakes are a good thing. I mean, just this week at work, I had a really rough day where all the worst possible things were happening, but I learned so much from it. I need to give myself grace (and that’s been one of the biggest learning curves I’ve overcome not only as a writer but as a person). God has been teaching me to not be so perfectionistic and just accept that I will make mistakes. But know that He helps me overcome them. That takes a lot of stress off of big decisions in life or even tiny ones in writing.
Sometimes, if I’m having a REALLY hard time forming a character, I will write an EXTENSIVE character sheet, but I’ve found that a simple one with just the bare minimum facts works best for me.
If you want a more extensive one, I recommend visiting the website of Abbie Emmons because she has a lot of good freebies for joining her newsletter.
More recently, I’ve been visiting a website called artbreeder to create AI-generated portraits for the character concept arts. I wouldn’t recommend using them professionally, but if you ever send ideas to an artist, I recommend it (I was just talking about it with an artist friend of mine).
Here are some examples of what it looks like.
Pretty cool, right? I know it’s not perfect, but it works for visualizing characters.
I know it isn’t long, but life’s been crazy and I missed last week’s post, haha. But I’m giving myself grace.
What helps you build characters?
Salutations, fellow adventurers.
1 thought on “Creating Characters | Random”
Artbreeder looks so cool! I should look into that. I’m trying to picture a vital character of mine, but it’s so difficult! I don’t know why! My poor baby needs to look like SOMETHING!!