How Do You Create Your Characters?

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Over the holidays, I was asked about the many characters in my stories and how I come up with them. I wasn’t able to provide a very good answer because I tend not to create them on purpose. I ‘back-engineer’ my creations’ backstories and traits after I’m well into writing them. They rarely pop into my head fully-formed, but reveal themselves as I write. Sometimes, I’m flabbergasted what I discover along the way.

This is probably fine for short fiction (most of what I write), but I’ve ended up with this rogues gallery of personalities yelling at me for more ‘page time’. It’s my own special flavour of multiple personality disorder. I suspect all us writerly-types are similarly afflicted.

For many of my longer pieces, I’ve taken the time and made a ‘napkin sketch’ of the major characters and relationships. Always pen-and-paper. As I write the story and details emerge, I jot down on my character sheets. Strangely, I rarely describe the physical attributes of my characters unless they are germane to the story. For some reason, when I do, I end up pigeonholing them too much.

At some point, I go through and clean them up and fill in the blanks. It’s geeky, but I tend to use D&D character alignments to craft the backstories and to make sure my protagonists and antagonists are distinct enough.

So, how do you create your characters? Sound off below.

Photo by MightyGodKing

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