Character Creating: How to get Started
After you’ve decided on what sort of book you want to write, it’s time to work on your main character. This usually serves as the protagonist of the story, though you’ll want to create an antagonist as well. Don’t worry: if your book has several main characters, you can still use this guide to work on making three-dimensional people for your readers to either love or love to hate.
It might seem unnecessary to have an entire history for your character but another way to think of it is to consider it a backstory. You need to know where your character originated from because that’s going to contribute a lot to their personality, their skill sets, and their hopes and dreams.
Take a character who comes from a farm in a fantasy world for example. He’s never done anything but buck hay and tend the fields. His parents are nice people who want him to run the farm by himself someday but he’s poor and their family struggles. In town, though, the rich have everything they can ever want. War comes to his kingdom and he’s drafted into military service. There’s a rebel group that’s trying to recruit him as well, to overthrow the rich and spread the wealth. Knowing the history of your character can help you decide what he’s going to do.
Another example of importance of history would be if your main character lost a spouse before the novel started. If you’re writing a romance novel for example, knowing that your main character’s husband died is going to influence how she learns to love someone else. She may feel guilt and confusion, and other complex emotions!
It’s important for you to know your main protagonist’s relationships. This doesn’t necessarily mean romantic relationships either. How’s his relationship with the people who raised him? Does he have brothers and sisters? Do they get along? Who’s his best friend? Is there an antagonist already that he has strife with?
Just as knowing protagonist and antagonist history can be important in determining motives, so can relationships. This can help define your protagonist’s personality. What’s the most important thing in their friendships and family ties? Is it loyalty, honesty, bravery, or simply the ability to enjoy the same types of things?
Character Likes and Dislikes
To have consistency in your book, it is important to know the likes and dislikes of your character(s). This list can include everything from watching the sunset in the morning, to reading a good book. It can also include favorite foods, and beverages. On the flip side, knowing what your character dislikes is important too. If you mention in chapter one that they hate cheese and then have them with a grilled cheese sandwich in chapter seven, there’s problems.
Trivial likes and dislikes aren’t the only important things though. You want to know what it is that makes your character tick. Do they hate the wealthy, or do they dislike the poor? Is it possible that they hold a grudge against whatever government your book has? Are drugs a trigger for them, whether in a good or bad way? Do they find certain crimes more heinous than others?
When in Doubt, Do a Personality Test
You can answer all these questions about your character and still be confused about who they are. Luckily, there are hundreds of personality tests out there on the Internet. You can take one, answering as if you are your character, and it will give you a good overview of the sort of personality your character has, including things they’re more likely to excel at, relationships they’d be good at, and what jobs they should avoid. Making a good character can be hard, but with the right tools, it can be just a little bit easier. Happy writing!