Monday, February 20, 2012

Making Your Characters Real

Happy President's Day, everyone!! :)

Today we're going to do a little experiment. On a scratch piece of paper or a Word document, think about one of your siblings or a best friend. Now, set a timer and for three minutes, write down every single thing that comes to your mind when you think of that person - memories, personality quirks, funny things they do or say, etc.

Okay. Look over your list. What do you have? Mostly memories? Mostly personality traits?

Get another scratch paper now and do the same thing with your main character from your work in progress - using ONLY what you've already written in your story.

Now look at this list and compare it to your list you made of your real life sibling/friend. What are the similarities? What are the things missing from your character that you noticed about your friend?

Honestly, this is how I do a lot of my characters. My characters are a jumble of a bunch of different friends I have - their personalities, their quirks, their high points and their flaws. I think about the things I love best about them and the things that make me crazy. I think about the things that make them THEM - their goals, their dreams, their favorites, their hobbies, their convictions, etc. Then I take different qualities from each person I know and smush them all together into a brand new character. I give them a name and a hair color and send them onto the page.

It's the best way I know how to make sure that my character sound like real people. If they are based on a composite of real people, the odds are good that they'll ring true.

How about you? How do you create your characters?


  1. This sounds like a great exercise! I'll definitely be using this and I'm tweeting this @historyans.

    When I create a character, I think about their purpose in the story, figure out their objectives and then think of their unique approach (tactics) for obtaining their objective. Then I start writing and (hopefully) the character starts evolving.

  2. I love this idea. I've heard a lot of ideas about characters but nothing like this. : )

  3. Thanks guys!! I'm so glad you found it helpful!! :)