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Topic: Creating Characters

When I write a story, I come up with the idea. The idea just pops into my head. Or I go through a few writing prompts to force it. I come up with the story first. I maybe write a bare outline. Then when I get to a point where I can no longer keep calling my characters "the man", "the woman", "the teenager", etc. I give them names. But still, I don't know my character, I don't have them all fleshed out until I've gotten into writing the first draft of my story. Then I gradually come up with my character's backstory as necessary. Maybe I come up with a great twist in their past for future reference. But as I write the story I meet them and get to know them as I would a normal person.
I do the plot, then the character. And I know that's not how a lot of people do it. I learned from other people to flesh out my characters first, maybe even, as an artist myself, design them, draw them out, give them hobbies, setting, whatever, then come up with the story based off the character. But, I just never found that working for me. What do you guys think? What works for you when creating characters for stories? Love to hear.

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Re: Creating Characters

There is no right way or wrong way there is only the way the works best for you.

I get to know most of the main characters in my stories before I start them, but sometimes a minor character will suddenly step into the spotlight and I have to get to know them as I write.

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Re: Creating Characters

I used to just wing it but then as i would be writing it would find it difficult trying to remember a characters parents, hobbies etc and decided to on a word document make a table where In each section is something different for example you have their name;
What their childhood was like: good , bad, poor, rich- later go more in detail
Parent's Names; If they are married
Grandparents, Great grandparents, Aunts. Uncles etc
Friendship; How they met said person, things they have done together perhaps "Met at college in 2014 and got into a bar fight two months of knowing each other, do movie nights each thursday"
Hobbies and Interest; As a kid Vs Adult
Motivations; Why they do the things they do in their life for example "They grew up poor and didn't have much so as an adult they wanted to give as much as they could"
Personality; Funny, Cheeky, selfless, broken
Beliefs; Not just religious but why they believe rescuing Timmy down the well was the right thing or stealing money from their mums purse was right.
Strengths;
Weaknesses;
Habits; Self criticism, fiddling with hands or fingers when stressed or uncomfortable
Appearance;
Coping Mechanisms;
Perfect life; What the character would see as their ideal life - nothing too ambicious.
Birth;
Death;
Past Relationships; Ex-boyfriends.
I found by doing this all though it toke me a while to get the answers i felt as if i was understanding my characters more. I only do it for the main/ important ones and i feel by knowing all this and having it written down to go back and check has made it a lot easier for me. Even just figuring out their style of clothing such as wearing long sleeved t-shirts or skirts that sit just above the knee because a character doesn't want to show off their scars although it seems so little is a rather big detail in my eyes. I found it difficult trying to find a method that worked for me but one day it just clicked, in the past i tried writing down basics, tried winging it but eventually one day i came up with this and it all meshed together. It did take me a whole day to figure out everything for around 5 of my characters but it has been worth it. Truly hope it becomes easier for you ~Anniebirnie~

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Re: Creating Characters

I don't know if this might help, but it could be used as an example. https://www.booksie.com/574565-angels-k … characters

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Re: Creating Characters

As Ian said, there is no right way or wrong way. I always give my characters names as I introduce them, but quite often change the names as the story progresses. As a writer of short stories, I don't waste words and reading time on a lot of irrelevant description, but I include enough to set the scene and carry the story along. Reader's imagination does the rest. I find that it helps, however, for me to to keep each character's personality in my own mind so that they behave consistently in accordance with that personality.

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Re: Creating Characters

I was taught that Character is all in a story, Characters make a plot into a story. I started out with templates of attributes, as you do, so time consuming and so little gets used when you write the story. I gave that idea up: templates. Some of my characters are based on me (with sex changes as required!), some of my characters evolve out of the story, even take over the story (misbehave!) and I have 2 files full of colour photos from glossy magazines, each stapled onto a white sheet typed with the name of the character and the story. Such fun! And often the photos have a quote! How about this one from Hello magazine: 'Because I'm a Woman Do You Think I'm Going To Crack Under The Pressure Or Conquer The Field?'..... Say Hello to Pearl!! Relax with your characters. love them, cherish them, care for them... and they'll look after you! Why not reinvent yourself as a character, either or both genders as I have...

HAVE FUN!

HJ Furl

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Re: Creating Characters

Crazygirl wrote:

Then when I get to a point where I can no longer keep calling my characters "the man", "the woman", "the teenager", etc. I give them names. But still, I don't know my character, I don't have them all fleshed out until I've gotten into writing the first draft of my story. Then I gradually come up with my character's backstory as necessary. Maybe I come up with a great twist in their past for future reference. But as I write the story I meet them and get to know them as I would a normal person.
I do the plot, then the character.

I agreed with those who said that “There is no right or wrong way.” The only way that suits you. The last time I try to write a list of characters with names, descriptions of their appearance, age, race, nationality, language, favourite countries (if they are travelling), job or another source of money, and so on. Sometimes, I use a little part of those descriptions in my chapters. Usually, I can put these descriptions in the first chapters or chapters where new characters come into the scene. For example, if you would look at the first chapter of “C'est dangereux”, my French story, you would find these descriptions in the very beginning. They are from this list. I can't write any story without this list. I think that film producers work in the same way.
But the way to accumulate information about characters it is not about creating characters as such. The form of characters depends on the story's genre. If you write a romance novel, your characters had to be romantic, lovable, and, as far as I recommend, beautiful and young. But there is no exact rules or dogmas: you can write something like “Sex and the City” if you make them older than just young ones. If you write a detective novel, they had to be any age, but usually older, strong ones and being those who understand unfamiliar people. Women in detective novels, if they are detectives, can be strong ones, too.
If your character is a terrorist, he is a man, the next, serves in the army of some country, a former military man who doesn't like the country or politicians. He is 60 something if he is a general (I mean the boss), and 20 or 30 something if he is a common soldier of some terrorist company. If your characters are living in a fantasy genre, vampires' story, then the rules are changing. The main thing it is not a way to accumulate information about characters; the main thing is to understand why you need this character in a particular story.