Creating A Character
Brought to you by… Mary Sues! Alright people, this is it, how to make an original character. For anything, an rp, a fanfic, even that novel you’re thinking of starting (eventually). Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to make a character the ideal person, this person is called either a Mary Sue or a Gary Stue. This is no bueno, senor. So, here’s a basic guideline of DOs and DON’Ts to help you along your way to creating a real person. Because characters are real, to the other characters and the world you set them in. Each book or world is it’s own universe, with it’s own rules, cultures, thoughts, and people- even if they are drastically similar to ours. And people are always people, the essence of humanity does not change even in a parallel universe or a long, long time ago, far, far away…
There are three basic areas to cover; appearance, personality, and history. Each of these has their own criteria and I will happily give examples of well-known characters from books and movies who embody such things if asked.
The basic bits of this are rather obvious: hair, style and color; eyes, color and shape; height; and weight/body type. These are the things we notice about other people first, while mentally cataloging it they, by themselves, don’t matter too much unless you actually use it as plot device, such as making their face burned because of a fire in their past trying to save someone and now everyone avoids them because they can’t stand to look at them and from all this the character takes away ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ or something to that extent.
Well, personality is a funny, quirky little thing. It has so many facets that it’s hard to accurately map it in any great detail. Unfortunately, this is something you learn about your character (yes, especially if it’s your own) as you write their actions and words. And if they end up doing something that completely takes you by surprise, well, then you’re doing it right. If you hear them talk back to you, don’t give into their sass, or talk back aloud. That might get you thrown in the looney bin eventually…
But, here are some basic questions to figuring out personality to help you along your way.
- How would your character react to being told they were attractive? Being asked to do paperwork? Ordered to deliver a letter? Abandoned in the middle of a battlefield?
- What is their favorite food? Do they even like eating or do they think it’s a waste of valuable time? Favorite drink?
- What are three of their hobbies?
- What is their occupation and do they enjoy what they do, to any degree?
- Political views and religious views, what are they? Why?
- What is one phobia? A real phobia, as in, a debilitating fear, not something just mildly scary.
- What are two things that utterly disgusts them?
And finally, history. This is rather easy, because you’ve probably thought all this up when you made the character. First thing’s first though, nothing sappy and/or traumatic simply because you want to add spice to the character. Normal people are the ones we connect to most. Yes, we feel for those with the bad lives and we adore the ones who seem larger than life, but we don’t get them, they’re entirely in another world from us, and the way to make a reader enjoy your story is to get them interested. You must make them concerned for your character’s lives and want to know why the did what they did.
Basic questions to answer:
- Where were they born?
- Who were their parents? What were they/homelife like?
- Adolescence, go. What were they like as a teenager? (Assuming adult characters.)
- Are they married? Engaged? Smitten, but the love is not returned?
- Best friends? Human or animal or anything inbetween? On that note, did they have pets? Slaves?
- Did anything traumatic happen to them, ever? What is the result of this? (As in, are they now afraid of spiders or they hate the world for what it’s done to them, or even decided to become a better person because of it? That sort of thing)
Alright, there you go. Here is your very basic outline for creating your own character. I hope this has helped and if you shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, I would gladly help you hone and refine your character!