Profiling Your Characters: A Study in Character Creation
I love creating characters.
I think I do that more than anything else when it comes to writing. I love creating a being from nothing but my imagination. There's a special kind of thrill that comes with manifesting a character from thin air that is nothing like yourself. I'm not hell bent on the destruction of man and the world he lives on, but I have a character who is. Asheron was a fun character to write, even if he wants me and everyone I love to die.
There are so many possibilities when it comes to creating a new character. That's probably why it's my favorite time. There are endless decisions to start it off, before you even think about the character itself.
For instance, you need to understand what your character's body type will be. You need to think of the clothes they are going to wear. How tall? What color eyes? How does his world environment affect all these things? There's a million questions to answer before you even settle on a name, let alone a personality.
I think my approach to finding my character's personality is different than most. I have no proof of this and I could be wrong. I tend to let my characters dictate what they will become.
Let's use Asheron, my big bad from Breath of the Titans, as an example. I originally started him to be a hero, one beloved by the people, who wanted to save the world. But as I went along the creating process, he slowly showed his personality to be the exact opposite of what I wanted. Ultimately this was a good thing, as I was able to create an entire series around Asheron being an antagonist. I don't think I would have had half the story I did for Breath of the Titans if it weren't for Asheron’s shift.
That being said, I have other characters that I knew before I even created them. In Urban Punk we didn't even have a name until we were halfway through the planning stages. Sara was custom built to fit exactly into the slot we fit her in. It's part of why she wasn't named until late in the process.
Because a name can be a powerful thing. Words hold power, and what is your name, but a word? The names help me to bring out specific personality traits. I think Lov, again from Breath of the Titans, would have gone insane, watching his people's fall, if his name were different.
No matter how you create them, there's one thing that is undeniable about your characters. They are yours. You include a tiny bit of yourself with them, and as time goes by, they start to take on a personality of their own. Just like watching a child growing up.
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