Creating A Character

Alright! We’re just a couple of days over the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo. How am I faring?

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It’s been a slow start for me, granted I spent the first week focusing on finishing my final assignments for school. Now that school is out for the semester I can sit down to — I lie, I can’t sit down to leisurely write. I’ll be starting an intensive bookbinding class, so another week will be spent not really writing for Camp. But I am thrilled for my class!

Coming into Camp NaNo I knew I’d be busy the first two weeks so I set myself a manageable goal of 25,000 words. As Camp neared though I realized I had little in the way of plot, character, or anything. So I decided to lower my word count to 15,000 words. Starting camp was pretty much this:

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I’m happy to say though that I have character names! But no antagonist yet. So this blog post will be focusing on *drum roll* ….

Character Creation

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This isn’t going to really be a “how to” because I think everyone does it differently. So I’m going to share with you my method of creating characters. Without saying: “Oh I dunno they just come to me” (though sometimes it feels like they do).

When creating a character I often like to try first to get a sense of who they are – which is sort of like saying they just come to me – so let’s back track. Where do I start? Well, one thing I like to start with, and I am not sure who else does this as well, but I like to find a quirk, or two, or three. These are sometimes habits, or personality traits, or just something random about them. These quirks I find either by narrowing down a quirk from people I know in real life, quirks from other characters that exist, or quirks just from a random list I might find when googling.

For example, for this blog, the quirk I’ve decided on is – they have sticky fingers, i.e. they have a habit of picking things up. This quirk tumbles into the idea that as a character maybe they always have something (or several things in their pockets). From there it continues to snowball. I like to work with a few quirks or try to tumble a few together.

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Check out: Is a Quirk Just What Your Character Needs? because it’s a pretty good read. Not every character needs a quirk. It’s just where I like to start when I’m brainstorming and creating someone from nothing.

Once I have that established the ball is already rolling, other habits start to form and I begin to get a mental image of the sort of person they might be. Next step usually for me comes naming a character (which is likely a whole separate blog post), or finding an image on Google or Pinterest that fits their imagined looks in my mind. Sometimes this is several images that I just blend into a collage.

A name usually sets a character in stone for me. Once I get their name more pieces of their personality and the way they are like start popping up, just based on that indexicality that comes from the name.

That’s usually where I leave it. At that point I like to take the character I have and let them grow during the writing. I’ll think of their family, back story, physical features, personality, and a few others basics but overall I like them to grow as I write them and to discover them that way. Something I dislike doing greatly is Myers Briggs or archetypal quizzes early on. While I understand they will fall into something on those tests I don’t want those tests to form my character for me. I want my character to be formed and growing before I take those quizzes to see where my character might fall and how accurate I think it is.

So for fun:

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  • sticky fingers, collects/steals little knickknacks
  • has a jingle in their step when they walk because of the little things in their pockets
  • male, lanky, tall, thin fingers, boyish face
  • observant, often bored, quiet but when he speaks he’s witty
  • James – goes by Jamie.
  • Dark reddish brown hair, curly, unkempt

Another thing, don’t be afraid of some clichés – even if your character starts sounding a little common or over used at the start, you have the ability to write them and grow them into something completely unique.

That’s all for now!

(Pst. I challenge Tara to write a post about how she creates characters)

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