Obsessive character creation

Seen on a walk while developing a character for my short fiction

Photo of a chipmunk the author took while walking in his hometown.

In my last post I mentioned that I often develop characters while walking. It relaxes me and allows me to focus without the distractions of my writing space (commonly referred to as my children). I have been working on character development for several short stories, but while walking today I came upon the idea for a brand new tale, complete with plot, ending, and all the “round” characters.

That is one thing I love about a good story, it all seems to fall together. I am a firm subscriber to the school of thought that says a great character drives a story better than a good plot, making it more believable. That isn’t to say plot and setting aren’t important, just that I feel a great character can almost tell the story simply in their personality.

Personally I probably spend too much time on character development for short 5,000-8,000 word fictions. I really get into it, picturing the favorite meals, nervous habits, what attracts them to the significant other/opposite sex, and anything I else I can brainstorm.

I want to make this blog something you can use to inspiration and information, so I thought I’d share one of the templates I made for plotting a character. I divide my list into two sections, essentials and modifiers. The essentials are:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Physical Description
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Strengths
  • Faults
  • Fears

Additionally I like to brainstorm the following characteristics, more for reference than necessity. You may have others, or find some of these less than useful, but here is my list as a guideline:

  • Hobbies (may be essential depending on prevalence to story)
  • Past Regrets
  • Secrets
  • Nervous “tics”
  • body language
  • Tattoos/piercings
  • Temperament

Promotional photo of Boris Karloff from The Br...

There is one part of character creation that I feel like I am not too good at or very fond of – naming the character. In desperation I have even thumbed through the phone book and Frankenstein’d a name out of pieces of various entries.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on character development. What do you like, what is difficult, and what spurs you on?


One thought on “Obsessive character creation

  1. Pingback: We’re experiencing technical difficulties | Cassandra Bellinger

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