Character Building

June 22, 2009 10:13pm CST
When Writing a narrative, I usually have a more or less defined main character, which I can easily describe from my head, As I progress trough the story I add secondary characters or make a brief mention of any other less important one. I like to make my main character evolve and shift from his humble or mysterious beginnings, towards an exciting or enlightening end. What techniques do you use to build your characters?
3 responses
@patgalca (14664)
• Orangeville, Ontario
23 Jun 09
I have to admit that my main characters are usually taken from real people in my life. I use their characteristics, or sometimes my own. I know some think of taking different characteristics from different people they know and combine them in one person but I'm not sure the traits would be possible in one person. That is, can a character who is shy and nervous be likely to go skydiving without a second thought? But, as the story progresses and the events affect their character, then something like this is possible. This is the evolvement of a character. A lot of times I put myself into the characters. It's a lot easier because I know myself better than anyone else I know.
• Canada
23 Jun 09
I'm not very creative when it comes to character building. I usually grab my favourite Dungeons and Dragons sheet and start plugging away at a basic character before fleshing out too many details. I often end up with a main character (often more than one) that are established at the beginning of the story. You have no emotional attachment at all to them, but you become more and more familiar with them through the story, even though the character hasn't changed at all. Apparently it's not a very good writing style, or I would have been published long ago.
@phyrre (2324)
• United States
23 Jun 09
My character building process is pretty complicated, but not at all unique. A group of my writing friends and I all seem to have similar techniques (purely coincidental since we've had them since before we all met). I like to get into the heads of my characters. I usually have a character come to me only partially formed. There'll be a vague, shadowy figure and I know some things about them (sometimes name and appearance, but not always, sometimes these come later). But I know the important things that make them critical characters. Then I kind of follow them around during the day (or, more likely, they follow me around). If I'm bored, just standing there doing nothing I'll think what would so and so do at this point. Sometimes I'll imagine conversations between my characters (sometimes this dialogue gets added in the story and sometimes it's just for getting to know my characters). I try to stay away from the character survey questions. I don't know why, but they seem so very forced to me and I find it more natural to just learn about the character as I go. Bits of the character also reveal themselves as I'm writing, too. I never really KNOW a character because to me they're like real people and so they're always growing and changing. Like in my WIP, a sci-fi novel, I didn't know that my tertiary character, Aaron, had a friend die right before they headed off for college, which changed his outlook on life and college in a major way that affects the rest of the novel. That was a last minute detail that popped up and took even me by surprise, but I think it's better that way. :)