The Characters

The Characters

A Lesson by E/Ǝnigma

what to do to determine characters


Characters usually come to me along with the idea, at least the main character and sometimes the oppressor. And again maybe I'm an oddball writer but people really struggle with this and I find it kind of funny in a sad way. My friend used to beat her head into the wall to get the perfect name and she hadn't even started with the basic things. I guess it's because I play Sims and go through everything else but the name unless I already have the name.
1. Gender!!! It's really as easy as Female or Male. I know this seems stupid but you'll be surprised how many people in my Writer's Club (at school) struggle over the right character and haven't started with are they a girl or a boy?
2. Age!!! Majority of the books made are aimed at the teenage crowd so of course they write about books dealing with the ages of 13-19 but mainly high school ages. Honestly how many different ways can you stress the same problems. Plus those books are written by old people who haven't been in high school for like 20-30 years. It's brutal. Sorry for the rant.... but yeah pick an age for your character *smile*
3. Appearance!!! I know by now you'll be like get to the names, be PATIENT! I have tried many combination for my characters on how they look. I've even gone to character generators. Ask yourself a few questions - tall or short? Fat or skinny? White, Black, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Latin? Is that everybody, idk... Beautiful or ugly? Small or big b***s/penis/butt? Blond/e, Brunette, Black, Red-head, or Rainbow? Eye color and hair color really depends on what you're writing about. Depends on if they're human or not. Have fun. The possibilities are innumerable.
4. Personality!!! Whoa, almost there. Personality really depends on who you are. No matter what character I create they are generally sarcastic and come from a broken home. One of these days I shall write about a happy, whole-homed person but anyways. Are they a jock or nerd? Rich, poor, middle? In those two questions you can generally get a feel for what your character is going to turn out to be. Jocks are popular, generally not the smartest, and might not be the nicest... unless your writing an unrealistic story about the jock with a heart of gold. And nerds include all nerds, literary nerds, game nerds... NERDS!
5. You'd think we'd be onto the name but nope... FLAW!!! I don't know about you but I don't want to read a story about the perfect person, in their perfect world unless they have a fatal flaw, an Achilles heel, a chink in their armor. Ex. they are terrified of water, bad English, scared of heights, scared of people, pessimistic, greed, cowardice, selfishness. No matter if they are perfect or not they need to have a flaw.
6. Almost there people, A Heart!!! No I'm not suggesting that people don't normally have hearts. What I'm saying is make your character likeable. You want your readers rooting for them to win, not to fail... because if they want them to fail your book will be an EPIC fail. Give your character something likeable. Ex. likes helping the homeless, family-oriented, animal lover, optimistic, humor. Basically something to combat their flaw. Even if you're writing a story about robots they can have a flaw and they can have a heart.
7. Let's talk Sex Baby, Let's talk about U and Me!!! I'm not talking about gender, I'm talking about the thing people don't talk about in public. They're sexual preference. Is your character straight, gay, bi, pan, asexual (if they're a plant), curious. Is your character a prude or kinky? Weird fetish? BDSM? Honestly you don't have to address is this. I don't judge, I love everybody. 
8. Favorites!!! This generally comes along through the progression of the story but if you're a control freak like I tend to be sometimes you'll think of these things before hand. I try to blend the favorites into the story. You don't want to put anything into the story that just won't make sense. You want everything to blend. If you're book is serious and deals with murder don't randomly mention that your characters favorite movie is something stupid like 27 Dresses. Have their favorite book be like Murder, She Wrote or something.  
9. Background/Family!!! With everything you write about you want it to blend. Nothing random that you pulled from the ether. His/Her background should be a reflection of the personality you already created. Because you are what your surroundings make you. Broken home, Whole- homed, foster, runaway? Are your parents alright, any drug addiction? Just look around you and figure out what you want for your character. For me after I go through the previous 8 steps, my character is generally writing itself. 
10. Name!!! We're finally at the final stop on my long rant. After you go through these 9 steps you should already know what you want your characters name to be or they should be telling you. If your character is crazy don't give them a generic name unless that's part of the comedy and they have an obscure nickname. You're characters' names should have meaning, at least for the main. I want to read the book and wonder why that name out of infinite names. Why that one? And you better not tell me it's just pretty. You're character has just become irrelevant. PLEASE I CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH, NAME YOUR CHARACTER ACCORDING TO WHO THEY ARE, or who they will be, or what it has to be do with the storyline. 
Ex. Pitch Perfect when she pointed out that Darth Vader was Dark Father. A character with a purposeful name!

Well I'm done for this week, I did what I said I'd do so be happy. I hope these pointers help you make great little characters that everyone will love or hate depending on what you want. Umm Comment, to tell me what you thought or what you want next. Next week I start school but I'll try to do The Basics: Setting and Time. Write on! 

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Posted 5 Years Ago

Thanks! The name thing was driving me crazy!
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Snellville, GA

Writing is my life. It's how I express myself. It's how I will always express myself because I think words are the best gift anyone can give.... well maybe diamonds. I'm a very complicated uncompli..