Characters Write My Stories

When I started writing for my own pleasure, the most exciting thing would be to invent characters for my story. Creating ideas and thoughts that developed a character’s personality, interests, background, etc. has always been a thrill for me. My imagination is ridiculous and I love it.

Some writers come up with plots for their stories before they add charters, scenery, and other details. But I tend to frame a setting and storyline around a protagonist I’ve created. One thing I do to form a character is to follow that old who/what/when/where/why/how trick.

Who: Who do they know? Who are their parents? Friends? Enemies? Who do they trust? Who are they afraid of? Who is their next-door neighbor? Who has hurt them? Who do they want to kill?

What: What do they want out of life? What’s their favorite activity? What kinds of foods do they like eating? What are they thinking about? What bothers them? What is their house made of? What kind of shampoo do they use?

When: When was the last time they slept through the night? When is their birthday? When did they last see their grandparents? When will they move to another country? When do they graduate college? When will they get kissed?

Where: Where do they live? Where did they leave their wallet? Where are they going tomorrow? Where did they go last night? Where is their uncle? Where did they find that charm bracelet? Where are they going to buy new tires for their car?

Why: Why do they have an obsession with sheep? Why did they forget to set their alarm clock? Why did the car in front of them get into an accident this morning? Why were they late to the hairdresser? Why did they choose to wear boots today? Why did they pierce their ears?

How: How are they going to get out of debt? How are they going to make it to the wedding on time? How do they like their steak cooked? How many licks does it take… haha just seeing if you’re actually reading my post. 😉 How is their penmanship?

For me, creating my main character (or main characters) helps me form the plot and setting. After all, the story does kind of revolve around them. I could take the answers of a handful of those questions above and run with them. And it would be a blast doing so!

Before, after, or during the process of running all those questions through my head, I love choosing names! Yes, I get on baby-naming websites and look up origins of names. I like my main characters to have significant meanings. They have to stand out but also fit with the genre, culture, and flow of the story.

I’m a visual kind of girl. So another thing that excites me about character development is imagining what they look like. I’ll google images of people who look similar to how I picture my characters and save them on my desktop for reference. This is helpful when I’m trying to write a scene that describes a character’s particular movement or interaction with another. For example: Can Kate tie her hair in a ponytail? Nope! She has a pixie cut. There will be no swaying of locks in the wind in this chapter. Catch my drift?

rough image of Perry (protagonist of my first novel)
Perry Bellum  (from my first novel)

I hope my scattered ideas help you. I don’t like to make blog posts too long so I’ll cut myself off here. Until our next Thursday together- keep it classy.


1 Comment

  1. I like this breakdown, it’s great to see some actual questions to ask while developing your character and figuring them out, and these ones are particularly insightful. I too write my story around my characters and not the other way around. Great post 🙂

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