Creating Characters I

Creating Characters I

A Lesson by A. Siemens
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A lesson focusing on building one of the centre pieces to any author's work: the character. Without this crucial piece your novel can seem weak and boring.

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The character is the centre piece of a story. It breathes life into your work, bring the readers in. Without a solid character, your work could end up seeming meaningless and boring to your readers...which needless to say, won't keep them coming back for more. 

So, how can we make a character come to life? There are several techniques that can be used. One of my favourites is the character chart. A character chart is designed to help you get to know your character better and give you something to look back at in order to keep you true to your character. I managed to find a good character chart online, but I edited it to make it more useful. Here's an example for one of my characters using a chart:

Appearance

Name: Genevieve Faye 

Age: 16

Born: 1748

How old does she look: 16

Eye colour: Brown with flecks of gold

Glasses or contacts: nope

Weight: 115

Height: 5’4”

Type of body/build: Thin, but sturdy

Skin tone: Pale

Shape of face: Heart shaped

Distinguishing Marks: Scar on right shoulder from childhood accident

Predominant feature: eyes

Hair colour: Brown

Hair feature (bald, receding hairline, etc): None

Type of Hair (Coarse, fine, thick, etc): Thick, coarse

Character’s typical hairstyle: braided or pulled back

Is she healthy: yes

Why/why not:

Physical disabilities: none


Favourites

Favourite colour: Green

Least favourite colour: White

Why: Plain/boring

Favourite Music: Flute music

Least Favourite Music: N/A 

Why: N/A

Favourite book: N/A

Why: W/A

Expletives: Damn

Mode of Transportation: horseback or walking

Daredevil or Cautious:  More daredevil, with a good head

Same when Alone: A bit more cautious, but pretty much the same


HABITS

Smokes (what): N/A

When/how much:N/A

Drinks (what): cider, some alcoholic drinks

When/how much: alcoholic drinks on occasions

Hobbies: reading, writing, hiking, riding

How does she spend a rainy day: reading/writing

Habits (bites nails, twirls hair, etc): bites lower lip


BACKGROUND

Hometown: Gévaudan

Type of childhood: happy, full of hardwork

First memory: Wandering off into woods while ‘father’ works in field

Most important childhood event: Being found as a baby

Still affects her: somewhat

Why: She’s curious about her real parents, and wonders why they abandoned her

Education: Pretty much self-taught. Unlike most, she’s literate 

Finances: Not terribly much money. They’re poor but get by


FAMILY

Mother: Unknown

Relationship with her: None

Father: Unknown

Relationship with him: None

Adoptive Father: Works as a farmer, found her as a baby alone in a field near Gévaudan

Relationship with him: They’re fairly close, and they have the same views. She respects him a lot, but still has things she chooses to keep secret

Siblings: Unknown

How many: Unknown

Birth order: Unknown

Relationship with each: None

Children of siblings: Unknown

Extended family: Unknown

Close: Unknown

Why/why not: Unknown

Children: None

How many: N/A

Birth order: N/A

Relationship with each: N/A

Grandchildren: None

Relationship with each: N/A


OCCUPATION

Where does she work: Out in her father’s fields

For how long: Pretty much the entire day

Co-workers: It’s only her and her father

Get along with co-workers: Yup, she and her father are fairly close

Like her job: Somewhat, she’d prefer to do something else, but she’s ok with it

Why/why not: She wants to do something more, something that’ll make her name known

Character’s dream job: She’s not quite sure yet


ATTITUDE

Character’s greatest fear: To be a nobody

Why: She thinks she has potential and doesn’t want it to go to waste

What’s the worst thing that could happen: To die young

What single event would most throw her life into turmoil: To find out something she believed strongly against was real

Why: It would be frightening and she has pride in her beliefs

She’s most at east when: She’s out in the forest, one with nature

Most ill at ease when: She’s in a crowded room

Depressive: Nope

Priorities: She’ll put work and her father first because she’s responsible

Philosophy: What isn’t proved by science, probably isn’t real

How she feels about self: She likes herself

Past failure she would be embarrassed to have people know about: ?????

Why: ????

If granted one wish, what would it be: To become someone of importance

Why: It would guarantee her riches and fame


PERSONALITY

Greatest source of strength in character’s personality: Her bravery and level-headedness

Does she see it as a strength or not: She thinks her level-headedness is a good thing, and believes that her matter-of-fact way will help her in the future

Greatest source of weakness: She has a tendency to be a loner and to ignore things that she doesn’t deem important

Does she see it as a weakness: She sometimes finds that being a loner doesn’t enable her experience everything. She’s oblivious to her habit of ignoring things

Her soft spot: Nature and her friends/family

Is the soft spot obvious to others: To those close to her know, but not many others

If not, how does she hide it: She chooses to have an outer-shell of confidence and impenetrability 

Biggest vulnerability: Her loyalty to others, some people could betray her or her temper

Which of the 7 deadly sins does she fight (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride): pride

Does she give into it (willingly or not): Sometimes

Which of the 7 virtues does your she have (chastity, abstinence, liberality, diligence, patience, kindness, humility): diligence


TRAITS:

Optimist or Pessimist: She has a bit of both, though she seems to lean to the pessimist side

Why: She won’t give up, but that doesn’t mean she has to be happy about everything

Introvert or extrovert: More of an introvert

Why: She enjoys quiet reflection and sometimes finds others to be too pushy or needy

Drives and motivation: She wants to make it somewhere. She hates losing, and will always try her hardest…unless super frusterated

Skilled at: Perseverance, and learning

Unskilled at: Social interactions

Talents: She’s very knowledgable about nature and has a brilliant mind 

Good Characteristics: Perseverance, loyal to others

Character Flaws: Isn’t yet a pro at social-interactions, a bit hot-headed

Mannerisms: More of a scientific attitude, tends to be somewhat formal in social-interactions

Peculiarities: Has a thing against myths, hates most nobility 

Biggest regret: N/A

Minor regrets: Not trying new things

Biggest accomplishment: Writing a journal of studies

Minor accomplishments: N/A

Character’s darkest secret: She becomes a werewolf

Does anyone else know: Not really

If yes, did she tell them: Nope

If no, how did they find out: She was acting strange


SELF-PERCEPTION

One word she’d use to describe self: level-headed

One paragraph description of how she would describe self: “I think I’m a level-headed, hardworking and responsible girl. I do my best to put my father first, though sometimes I will admit that I choose the comfort of the forest over the field-work my responsibilities dictate.” 

What does she consider best physical characteristic: Her eyes

Worst physical characteristic: Her hair

Are these realistic assessments: Not at all

If not, why not: Many would say her hair is beautiful

How does she think others perceive her: She thinks that they think she’s a bit weird, but not to the point of discounting her

Four things she would most like to change about self (most important-to least): Her lack of importance

Why: She wants to be someone

If change #1 was made, would she be as happy as she dreams: Maybe, she may have over exaggerated her dreams, but she would still be around the same level

If not, why not:


INTERRELATION WITH OTHERS

Is she in a relationship: No

Did she have a previous relationship with someone: No

Why did it end: N/A

Has she cheated on anyone: N/A

Has her significant other cheated on her: N/A

How does she relate to others: She lacks a bit in the social interaction part

How is she perceived by…

Strangers: A little weird, but responsible (someone they could count on)

Friends: Loyal and trustworthy, even with her little quirks

Husband/boyfriend/fiancee: N/A

Is she a heroine: Yes

How so: She easily takes care and won’t give up

What do friends/family like about this character: Her loyalty 

What do they hate: Her weird little habits


GOALS

Immediate goals: To move away from Gévaudan 

Long-range goals: To become famous or at least well known

Her plans to accomplish goals: Work hard and know the right people

How will others be affected: she’d probably take her friends and family to the top with her


PROBLEMS/CRISIS

How does she react in crisis: She may freak out, but in the end she will probably stay calm

How character faces problems: Head on, she hates beating around the bush

Kinds of problems she usually runs into: Sometimes others mock her, or make up rumours

How she reacts to NEW problems: She approaches it in a scientific manner, slow and cautiously. She weighs the options before decided on a plan of attack

How does she reacts to change: She adapts well


GENERAL

Favourite clothing: Something loose and flowing

Why: She likes anything comfortable 

Least favourite clothing: Anything tight and heavy

Why: She feels trapped while wearing them

Jewelry: She later gets a medallion

Other accessories: Nope

Drives: Nope

Where does she live: Gévaudan, a small village in France

Where does she want to live: Paris, because she believes all important people live there

Spending habits (frugal, spendthrift, etc): She’s careful with her money

Why: She doesn’t have much and wants it to last for emergencies 

What does she do too much of: She chooses to be a loner and spend time with herself rather than others, work 

Too little of: Social-interaction

Most prized possession: Her mind

Why: She believes it to be an invaluable tool 

Play musical instrument: Yes

Which: A small reed flute

How did she learn: Her father taught her a bit, but she later learned on her own


MISC

Person she secretly admires: Her Father

Why: She thinks he has everything together and he always goes into something will a cool head

Person she was most influenced by:Her Father

Why: He’s the person she spends the most time with 

Most important person in her life (before story): her Father

Favourite slang word/phrase: Damn



This has been the first character lesson for Write Like You've Never Written Before. More will follow! 

Have an awesome day, and keep on writing!
-Asiemens


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Comments

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Posted 4 Years Ago


Oh my, a lot of these look so familiar! :) This is almost exactly how I create my characters! But my list is much, much shorter and I have to find a picture, that's how I get my main characters.

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Posted 4 Years Ago


You don't always have to use the Character chart, eventually you'll have done it so many times your brain can come up with characters on cue. However, it's a really nice way to get more in depth characters and to get you really thinking on what it takes to create a character with many dimensions.

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Posted 4 Years Ago


This is a very good Character Chart. Thank you for this. So do we always use this Character Chart to create our own characters?

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Posted 4 Years Ago


I have never seen such an in-dept Character Chart, I will definitely make use of this. Thank you for posting.

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Posted 4 Years Ago


I'll definitely refer to this when making my characters!

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Posted 4 Years Ago


This is very helpful, thank you for putting it up (:

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Posted 4 Years Ago


really helpful

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Posted 5 Years Ago


Thanks guys! If you have any suggestions for future lessons, feel free to let me know! :)

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Posted 5 Years Ago


This is awesome. I've been looking for something extremely in depth like this so I can get my characters onto paper instead of keeping them trapped in my head! XD

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Posted 5 Years Ago


and the plot and the begginign sometimes i start boringly!
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Author

A. Siemens
A. Siemens

Canada



About
I'm a (currently) unpublished author from Canada. I've been writing since I was very young, and have been making up stories for as long as I can remember. I've recently finished my first full novel, b..