Characters | Behind the Story

Now you know what genre(s) and likely what age category you will be writing, time to get some characters. How thorough you are about this process really depends on how in-depth you want to go.

Maybe your only character is a duck. You know that it’s a brown duck. He’s a happy duck. That’s all you need to know to tell your story, so you’re done. You have your character and you’re ready to move on.

Maybe your story is about triplets. You probably want to know their styles and personalities so you don’t mix them up while you’re writing and your readers don’t get confused while they’re reading.

I like to know my characters’ basic appearance, their eye and hair color and their general size, any items they have on them, be that equipment or a sentimental item they always carry, the main traits of their personality, and their goal, that one thing that drives them throughout the story and invests them in the plot. That’s enough for me. If I need anything else, I’ll figure it out when it comes up and add it to that character’s sheet so I don’t forget later.

And yes, I do make character sheets. It’s really just the characters’ names and all of this information listed beneath each one. I make them so everything is organized in one place so I can find it easily whenever I need to use it as a reference.

Some people like to take this step and run with it. They know everything about their characters, from their shoe size to their favorite ice cream. They have long lists of facts and descriptions. They take personality tests on behalf of their characters to figure out their Meyers-Briggs personality type. And that’s fine. If that helps you get to know your characters and write them better, go for it. Know as much about your characters as you need to so that you can make them believable and tell your story effectively.

Gather up your cast, and next week we’ll give them a world to live in.