Besides getting the initial spark of an idea for a story that gets me so pumped to write, one of my favourite parts of starting up a new manuscript is character creation.
Some people are more in favour of letting the characters emerge from the actions you write for them. I’m a big fan of building their personalities ahead of time and letting those personality traits guide me in figuring out what actions to write.
Here are some of the things I do when it comes to building characters…
First off, I get the basic stuff out of the way: appearance, job, age, family members. The kind of stuff you might share on a first date, I suppose. It provides a very skeletal baseline of this new character.
I am a big fan of personality quizzes. So much so that I even wrote a blog post on it. You can check that out here. But I have a couple personality types that I like to build into my characters. The first is the Myers-Briggs personality type. The second is Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies. Understanding these personality types and how they apply to my characters will have a lot to say about how the characters react to situations and what their thought-processes are.
Character Building Worksheets
I love a worksheet! Kristin Kieffer from Well-Storied wrote a great blog post on character building and had a free email course that guided authors through building in-depth characters. It went into memories, early life experiences, values, habits, and more. Some of this deeper work seems irrelevant, but it’s nice to come back to in order to remind myself of all the hard work I did in preparing this character. When I return to the worksheets, I can adjust the manuscript so the character lines up more, or I can adjust a few things on the character sheet because of how the character has naturally grown in the manuscript.
Character building is one of my favourite parts of starting a new manuscript because exploring characterization is the reason I write in the first place. I like to explore how life experiences can affect a character’s future, how a personality trait can change the way they react to their boss, how the people in their lives might shape their future selves.
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As I get deeper and deeper into a manuscript, I love reaching the point where I feel 100% percent confident in how my character would react to something and what action they would take – you know, the “she wouldn’t do that!” moment.
Thanks for reading along! If you want to read some of the characters I’ve created, sign up for the email newsletter and you’ll be the first to know about my book launches!
Enjoy the journey,