31 August, 2013 | By Goldie Alexander
HINTS ON HOW TO CREATE YOUR CHARACTERS
Unsure how to establish a satisfactory character who will also give you heaps of material for your story?
It is MOST IMPORTANT before you can even begin that that you must establish your main characters. You must establish where he or she lives and have some idea of plot. Creating a main character is one way of ensuring that you will have something to write about. Given that your character lives somewhere (this will give you a setting) and at a particular time (present, past or future) half your plot has been established. All you have to do is create some of his/her distinctive traits and present conflicts, and you will have plenty to work with.
1. What is your character’s name? Does he or she like it? Why or why not? Does she have a nickname? Who gave it to him? My example: One of my favourite characters is the magician tGF in ‘eSide: A Journey Through Cyberspace’
2. What does you character look like? My example: Elizabeth Harvey in “My Australian Story: Surviving Sydney Cove” is a 13 year old transported convict and starving so she is small and thin.
3. What is your character’s voice like? Sultry? Squeaky? Husky? My example: tGF sounds as if he swallowed a dictionary.
4. Habits and Gestures: Does your character bite his nails? Pick split ends? Have any favorite expressions or slang words? Kid characters speak differently to adults. Listen to the way your friends say things. My example: The Stranger in the short story of the same name says: ’[email protected]#*&$#.’
5. Clothes. What does this character’s dress style say about his personality? Why does she dress the way she does? My example: Lizzie Harvey’s clothes are nearly in rags because no one in Sydney Cove had enough clothes.
6. Where does your character live? In a caravan park? An apartment? A suburban house. How does this affect him? My example: Maybe he’s homeless like Jem in my short story “Alley-Cat’.
7. Parents/brothers/sisters/ grandparents: How does everyone get along? My example: Is his father a widower – this means his wife is dead – like Edward’s dad in ‘The Glitterland Tapes.’
8. What are your characters worst and best subjects? Some of my characters hate maths. Others like science but hate reading. My example: Sam and Melody in eSide both have ‘good ideas’ but Sam can lose her temper and Melody is very shy.
9. Work experience: Does your character have an after-school job? My example: Finn in the short story ‘PartyPlan’ is trying to make enough money to throw himself a wicked birthday party.
10. Hobbies and pass times. What is your best hobby or pass time? Maybe your character can share it with you. After all, you probably know lots about it. What does your character like to do after school? On weekends? During school holidays? Maybe your character doesn’t have a hobby. My example: Princess Pamela (Princess Bored) in ‘An Unhappy Story’ is always bored… at least until Hero turns up.
11. Pets (or is your character allergic to animals?)My example: Zach in ‘A~ZPI’s Hedge-Burners’ has maybe too many pets including a rat called eM.
14. Favourite colours/music/books/movies/TV shows/foods.
My example: Chloe in ‘The Stranger’ hopes one day to create ‘A Great Work of Art’.
15. Best friend: Why is this person special? What characteristics do they share? Have they ever had a falling out? What caused it? My example: Marni and Dell have a terrible falling out in“Dessi’s Romance”.
16. Enemy: Why does your character hate this person, or vice-versa?
My example: In ‘My Horrible Cousins’ in the short story collection with that name, Madison and Sienna despise Lorrie for being not tall and pretty.
17. What is important to this person, and why?
My example: Lizzie Harvey must get her journal that tells of her terrible trip to Sydney Cove to her brother back in England.
18. Ambitions/dreams: What does your character want to be when he grows up… or What does she want to be or do in the next 15 minutes? My example: Rom in ‘Space Gypsies’ (Killer Virus and Other Stories) must save Julietta’s life.
19. Fears: Afraid of the dark? My example: Afraid of heights like Scott in ‘Vertigo’.
20. Heroes: Whom does the character look up to, and why? My example: Lizzy Harvey looks up to Governor Arthur Phillips because he has dealt so fairly with both convicts and marines.
21. Boyfriend/Girlfriend/ Best friend?
My example: ’Dessie’s Romance’is all about friendship and what can come between best friends.
22. Present problem: How will it get worse? How will it be resolved? My example: Rowan utterly dislikes his cousin Zach in ‘Bridging the Snowy’. But caught in a storm he must put safety first.
Now you know so much more about your character, try to answer the following questions yourselves:
23. Why is your character worth writing about? (Remember, if YOU don’t care about your character, neither will your readers.) How or why is this character different from other similar characters?
24. Do I like/dislike this character and why? Will readers react the same way?
25. Will this character be remembered and why?
26. Last but not least, ask yourself: What does my character want more than anything in the world? Why does she want it? And how will it be attained?
Remember: The more you know about your characters, the more they will become real, live people to you.