When I write and plan a novel, the first thing that I have in mind before I have plot, setting or even have the intention of planning a novel, are the characters. Characters come easy to me and jump into my mind without me asking them to be there. I don’t know if this is because in general I like watching people and seeing how they interact. Or maybe because I spent too many hours on Sims when I was younger. Whatever it is, I am grateful for this sense of character-finding seeing as I know a lot of people who struggle with making characters. That’s why I wanted to share this post with you and hopefully help make character making a bit easier.
Please step up to the build-a-character machine. Seeing as first impressions are everything, let’s begin with appearance.
The appearance of a character is vitally important! Readers are vain and are always interested in knowing what they look like. The key thing to remember here is not to dump all the description in one place. Maybe one chapter you mention the colour of her eyes, and the next is when you mention her hair colour. Either way, we gradually build up the impression of the character without having it all dumped onto our plate at once!
Next we shall move along to the language bar. Feel free to take a proportion of goody-two-shoes, English accent, or curse word sandwich.
You should always know how a character is going to speak. Sometimes it helps to have a friend and choose their kind of language to fill the mouth of your characters. Maybe they curse pretty often, maybe they rarely do. Do they have an accent because of where they come from? (Killing two birds with one stone!) Is there a signature word they use pretty often? Everyone mentions this exercise but I am sure a lot underestimate how much sitting in a cafe and hearing everyone speak can help!
Welcome to the Divergent section of our build-a-character. This serum won’t hurt a bit…
Everyone has fears and wants. Even the Sims do! Choose one thing that your characters are going to be gravely afraid of. (HINT: They usually have to face this at some point in the novel as well, so nothing like spiders please! Unless they have to face a giant one!) Also, what is it that the characters want. Is it something beyond the novel’s plot line, or is their want to do with the novel? For example, in an adventure novel, maybe all the character wants is to get home.
Welcome to the dance floor! Here, we shall be examining the movement of your character.
Knowing the way your character moves may seem like a small detail, but it has a lot of branches to it. We want to know if your character oozes confidence when they walk, with a swagger or a cocked up hip, or whether they curl into themselves and hide away. That can really show us more about the character. It’s also useful to know so that you can put in nervous ticks or certain movements they make only when experiencing a certain emotion.
Now it is time for a little x-ray. All we need to do is study those brain waves…
Knowing the way a character will think really does help. I would highly suggest choosing an MBIT personality of your character and then reading up about what they are like/do to be part of that personality. We then get an understanding of the way they will think, and because of this, know how they will react to certain situations and problems as well.This also hints at their morals and values too.
We’re just about finished here! But we would hate to leave any of our wonderful characters underfed. What would you like to eat?
You should always know at least one little unnecessary fact about your character! Choose a favourite food for them now. Or maybe another kind of fact that would be fun to have crop up in the novel at some point.
You look marvelous dear. I do hope you end up in a lovely novel. Not one of those dystopia books!
Too many of those characters end up living much shorter lives than others.
Hope this guide was helpful!