Creating characters is a really interesting process. If you’re crafting a main character you need to learn everything possible about them. What do they look like? What culture are they from? What are their motivations, their likes, dislikes? How do they relate to other characters? There are two basic ways that you can go about this: you can just start writing and take note of how your character behaves and how they develop or you can answer as many questions about them as you can first and then write them based on what you’ve decided. I like to work with a little bit of both sides. I get an idea of the character, their appearance, family, spirituality and basic culture, but otherwise I like to let them evolve. As they act, move and speak within the context of the story a more complete picture develops.
For my fantasy novel there will four point-of-view characters and because the story is told from their perspective and sometimes takes place within their minds. I have to create the characters and their world from scratch. Of course, you’re able to take inspiration from people, events, places, etc. in order to craft your story, but I find that the characters almost write themselves. Sometimes they even take twists and turns and there’s nothing the author can do to stop it before it comes pouring out. This is my favourite side effect of creating a story, though sometimes what pours out derails future plans or has characters behaving not at all like you wanted them to.
No story is complete without minor characters as well. There are those on the periphery that help make the world more complex. The saying that “no man is an island” is especially true in the context of a richly told story. If you think about your own life there are going to be many people that shape who you are, how you behave, etc. The same is true for your main characters. There are other characters that support them, that help drive the plot, that provide lessons and conflicts and that makes them just as important as the main characters. Without the minor characters the main characters would just be standing in place. Be sure to craft each character with the same level of care, everyone in the story is deserving of attention.
Here’s a good roadmap to start with: http://www.writerswrite.com/journal/jun98/how-to-create-a-character-profile-6986
Thanks for stopping by!