Building Characters From The Ground Up- Part 5

Welcome to the last post of my Building Characters From the Ground Up series.

At this point, I generally feel like I have a pretty good handle on my characters. After all, I know their personality pretty well, I know their history (probably better than my own), and I know the character journey they are about to embark on. There isn’t too much left that we need to know about them.

Usually when we start learning stuff, we tend to start in the shallow waters and dive deeper down. I treat my character development the opposite way. I like to start as deep as possible, and make my way up to the surface. So, my last piece of developing characters is the surface level stuff. What does your character look like? What style of clothes? Favorite outfit? You get the idea…

This is a good time to browse around the internet looking for a photo that is how you would picture your character. I prefer to stay away from celebrities, as I find it is easy to think too much about how we’ve seen them act in life or on film. For the same reasons, I stay away from anyone that I know personally. I want the picture to be someone I have never seen before.

As far as clothing, this is another time to do some research, especially if you are doing a historical novel. If futuristic or fantasy, sketching something or looking for ideas online could be helpful. I don’t plan on having a picture of every dress my character will wear, but having a few can be helpful. This is a good time to research any specific terminology related to clothes and hairstyles as well.

The last part of this is how does the character come across to the people around him or her. Are they likeable? Do people come to them for gardening advice or relationship advice? Do they have a pet, or are they allergic? I know in my first post I kind of bashed on a lot of character templates, but this is where the type of questions that they ask belong (at least if you need some suggestions).

With this, you should have a pretty well developed character. As you write, you might have to add in some details or tweak a few things (that’s been my experience at least). But I hope my own technique has helped you.


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