Topic A: The Plot
Categories: Brainstorming, World building, Story Set-up
Topic B: The Characters
Categories: Initial Creation, Background, Complexity
Topic C: The Writing
Categories: The Vital First Chapter, Your Inner Editor, Writers Block
Hello writers! I haven’t done a post for The Fictional Writer’s Guide for a while, so I thought it was time I continued the series.
Today I’ll be talking about the ‘Initial Creation of Characters,’ which is, as the name suggests, the formation of characters before you develop them.
This is what you need to ask yourself: Who is vital in the story I’m trying to tell?
I’m not saying that every character needs to have a big, important role, but each individual should play a part in moving your plot along. Whether they be your MC’s sibling, a pet, or a person on the street, they should serve a purpose.
Characters who don’t do this are unnecessary, and take up space and your reader’s attention. Take my previous list, for example. Your MC’s sibling may be crucial to the story and how it moves. Perhaps they help your MC on their journey (be it physical or mental), or hinder their progress. They shouldn’t just be walking around the house, because, like any real person, they’re likely to make conversation and have places to go. As a writer, you’re observing a character in their natural habitat. Their actions should be genuine, and when you capture them they should effect how your characters view their world and live in it.
How about a pet? Maybe animals aren’t crucial to your story, but how about in your MC’s life? Would he/she have one? If so, how often should it be mentioned? You can mention a pet when describing surroundings, in passing movements (he patted Fluffy’s head absently as he passed) or during larger events they’re included in. And remember, animals should have personalities too!
How about strangers? Should they be mentioned? Well, it depends. If you’re talking about a crowd of people, you should mention them as a whole. If you want someone the MC sees to leave an impressions, by all means. Just make sure that they have some effect on the story.
When you first create a character, what should you decide about them initially?
You don’t have to go in-depth right away, just decide how they effect the story. I make character profiles, which you can see HERE if you haven’t already.
Some writers don’t worry about the character’s name when they’re first creating them, but I find it hard to figure out who they are without the name. I enjoy naming characters probably as much as designing them (which I like to do on Rinmaru.com).
Character description isn’t as important (unless your character has a unique mark, strange colors- avatar, for example- or noticeable scars), but I find it fun to mention little things. Making your character see themselves in the mirror has become a cliche, so I try to reveal identifiers to the reader in other ways. Veronica Ross did a very good job of this in Divergent. In the beginning, Beatrice Prior (or Tris) is getting her hair cut by her mother.
Characters are the driving force of your story, and you want your reader to have a reason to follow them. I’ll be talking about character background in my text post, so stay tuned.