Starter’s guide for writing: Creating relevant characters

An article written by: Lee Sonogan

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The key to creating better plots rests in a deeper understanding of character. — Kristen Lamb, quote from Great Characters–The Beating Heart of Great Fiction

Creating characters can be applied to all kinds of writing. Characters are important to stories and creative writing. They become very relevent to what ever it may be your writing about. Characters can be expressed as fiction or a narrative from a creative perspective. Developing characters into a story involves creating connections and the illusion of being a human being. Round characters will give you complex characteristics towards the development of your story.  Creating characters involve making them come to life.

What type of characters do you need for your story? Firstly you need characters that will compare and contrast each other. To keep your readers interested you must make the characters likeable and conflict to a certain degree. Add more to characters by creating relationships between each character. Every story has a main character and/or a protonigist. The main character should be in some sort of relationship with most of your other characters. Some example relationships could be aggressor/victim, rivals/adversaries, human/god, boss/employee, and much more character dynamics.

If you can think of a main character already for your story, then you already have the template needed to create more characters that reflect for the overall story. While introducing a character to a story, you will need to define that character strong being very descriptive. When the a character already introduced sees someone for the first time, the first thing described should be their physical appearance. You do not need to describe a beautiful face. Going into detail in what they actually look like will be an interesting way for the readers to remember the character for the rest of the story.

Carl Jung, in theorizing archetypes, defined twelve types of personality. Just like in real life these personalities can be used for character traits for writing. The twelve are broken into three sections. Type of character, goal oriented and the emotion fear. The character traits include: Type: The innocent, The Orphan, The Hero, The Caregiver, The Explorer, The Rebel, The Lover, The Creator, The Jester, The Sage, The Magician and The Ruler.

Goal oriented character traits include: Happiness, Belonging, change world, Help Others, Freedom, Revolution, Connection, Realize Vision, Levity and Fun, Knowledge, Alter Reality and Prosperity. Characters based on Fear can include: Punishment, Exclusion, Weakness, Selfishness, Entrapment, No Power, Isolation, Mediocrity, Boredom, Deception, Unintended results, Overthrown.

Questions that you should ask and develop about your new character:

  • The name of the character?
  • Nationality of character?
  • Age of character?
  • How does Character see himself/herself?
  • How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others?
  • How self-confident is the character?
  • What would most embarrass this character?
  • Educational Background?
  • Intelligence Level?
  • Any Mental Illnesses?
  • Learning Experiences?
  • Character’s short-term goals in life?
  • Character’s long-term goals in life:
  • Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination?

Characters that are interesting are believable and relatable. When they think you can clearly see what makes them good at what they do. Then you should be able to clearly see when they suffer and flawed. You know a character is good when the story slows down and the character remains appealing. So that’s my basics of creating relevent characters. Further research is needed in character traits, connections to parts of your story and development of themes/topics to create the perfect character/s right for your story.

You must learn to be three people at once: writer, character, and reader.  — Nancy Kress, quote from the book Write Great Fiction – Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint (aff.)

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