When you’re making a story, you’ve got to make sure your characters are well made. If they’re not that thought out, or lazily made, the reader will certainly notice. How well your character is developed can make or break the entire story. To make sure your character is as well thought out as they could possibly be, I’ve made a checklist with a few examples of what to make sure you have. Throughout this, I’ll even use the examples to create a character to show you how easy it can be when you use this list.
A great first place to start when creating a character is the description. When you build what they look like, inspirations for their personalities, their interests, and their experiences in life may start to fall in line for you. For example, if you create a female character who has short dyed hair, wears a specific necklace all the time, and wears camo, you may get the inspiration for a female soldier. The dyed hair may show a hint of quirkiness and fun in her personality. The necklace may symbolize someone or something she loves.
Next, you need to create basic information like their full name, birthday, the time period they live in, and age. It seems like a small and obvious step, but often people forget one of these four things and leave it out of the story. Setting all four of these up may give the reader more of a connection to the character as it makes them more real in their mind. Our military woman will be named Dana Vail, her birthday is December 4th, she lives in the early 2000s, and she is twenty-six years old.
After you’ve created the basic information it’s time to go a bit deeper on who this character is. You need to create five things they do and don’t like. There is a chance that not all of these will make it into the story, but if by chance they do come up it’ll add either more conflict, a funny scene, or more sentiment to the character. Dana will like apples, sunrises, her family, fleece pajamas, and saving people. She will dislike seeing dead bodies, feeling like she has to live up to something, being woken up, insects, and being alone.
From this, we can now make the conflict they face, and how it affects them. Dana joined the military for her family. They have a long lineage of soldiers and so they expected her to join, too. So, since she loves them more than anything, she joined. It’s safe to say she’s having a rough time. All things she enjoyed in her day-to-day life, like a crisp apple in the morning, the smell of grass after it had just rained, and snuggling up at night with warm fleece pajamas. She has to see dead bodies or even kill people occasionally, which constantly overwhelms her with guilt. Not only that but she gets woken up early each morning.
However, there are a few things that make it easier for her. Each morning, when she is rudely woken up, she gets to see a beautiful sunrise. Even though she often has to see death, there are some moments when she gets to save someone. Lastly, since she hates being alone so she’s made a bunch of close friends.
When you keep all of this in mind, creating a character can breeze. I created Dana and her story in just thirty minutes. However, if you do happen to hit some roadblocks, even though you used this, don’t get frustrated. If you really can’t think of any of this stuff for a character, then maybe it’s time to revisit the plot and/or the character themselves and start over. Sometimes taking the idea but changing it up can be the best thing for your story.