Building Your Characters

Building Your Characters

A Lesson by The Ugly Rose

How to develop and design your characters to suit your story plot.


Now you're ready to start creating your characters. This might possibly be the most difficult part of creating your story. Characters must be interesting, dynamic, have flaws, have strengths, change through the story, and above all else, capture your readers attention and make them relate.

There are a couple types of characters in a story: dynamic and static. Dynamic characters are the characters that effect the plot greatly. They are the most memorable characters, and should be in the story a number of times. Dynamic characters usually have many personality traits that are well known, and a lot more information is known about them. Static characters are supportive characters that effect the plot in a small way, but shouldn't be read into too much. Only a few traits are known about static characters, and they usually just support the dynamic characters in small ways.

First and foremost, do not even attempt to name your character before the last step! Here's a few steps you can take to help build your character:

1. Start with a description of what they look like. What color is their hair? Eyes? Skin? Any unique physical features that stand out? Are they plump, skinny, well-built, etc? Do they have any flaws, or are they beautiful? Make them interesting. Not every character must be the most attractive being. They have to have flaws that make them memorable.

2. Personality: Are they eccentric, brave, a coward, smart, brash, mean, kind, etc? A personality of a character is much like a human being: dynamic. A character cannot have only one characteristic, and be complete. They must have many traits and quirks. Take your time on building them up.

3. Interests: What do they enjoy? If you character has interests, you will be able to get some ideas for your plot from these. It's very easy for a reader to relate to a character if they seem more normal than extraordinary.

4. Strengths/Flaws: Every character, like every human, has strengths and flaws. They could be intelligent, but cowardly, or brave, but mean. At this point, you may choose a couple strengths and flaws, but don't over do it. It'd be ideal to max out at three or 4. Again, these flaws and strengths can effect your plot. It's very important to remember that your character must evolve over the course of the story.

5. Background: Everyone has a past, including your characters. What is the past of your character? Do they have a family, or are they deceased? Have they had a disaster in their past? Where do they come from? Who are their family? Do they have a friend who's been with them for a long time? You may use aspects of your own past here for ideas. Think of the basics of your past (ie: school, friends, experiences, memories, family) and use it to help build your character. You may also use one memory for one character, and another for another character. Using this method makes it much easier to build a past for your characters.

6. Name: Finally, once you've built your character, you may name him/her. Building the characters personality and past make it much easier to think of a name that fits the character. If you pick a name that does not suit the character at all, it makes it a bit strange. Take time in choosing your name, don't just toss one in. Names are the first thing that a reader remembers, and can define a character. It may suit you to do a bit of research for names. If your story is medieval, consider using a name from that time period. Write out a few options, and pick one that feels right.

These steps should be used to create not just one main character, but many characters that effect the plot. Your main character will meet many other characters along the plot line, so it's best to have many dynamic and static characters.

Before continuing onto the next lesson, you should create a small group of characters, including both dynamic and static. Have at least 5 dynamic characters, and 5 static characters. Put time and effort into creating them.

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Added on June 25, 2012
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The Ugly Rose
The Ugly Rose

Calgary, Canada

* I love it when you rate my work, not just review it :P* Nearly all my work has spelling errors because my keyboard often misses keys that I press * **If you would like to quote my work, or use it..