As I begin working on my new series, I’ve rediscovered the wonderful parts of being a writer. The first-drafts, plotting a story and getting to meet new characters. As I get more into this series, I’m realizing how hard this stuff is. Plotting has a been a bit of misfire this go around, so I’ve really delved into developing some characters with interesting stories.
Back in college, when I was a creative writing minor, I would scoff at the idea of character vs. plot, and now I’m laughing at myself because plotting used to be so easy. Yet, these characters are so much clearer from the get-go than any in my other series were. Since I worked on The Cassie Morgan books for so long, it’s so interesting to see how I handle story as an adult.
While I often find that creating characters is a multilayered process, I try not to overthink that process. And Lord knows I’m an overthinker. When it came to these characters, I really sat back and let it develop naturally, of course, but sometimes it’s good to take note of your process.
1. Start with the Basics
Seriously, this may seem like a “duh” moment, but you need to have some of those basics down. Have a name for your character, decide what they look like, how they act, their background, etc. That’s where those Evernote templates come in handy.
Right from the start, I had a name I was carrying around: Emily Bennett.
With a last name like mine, I often find myself trying to pick names that are easy, popular during the era the character was from, and something short.Creating a new character is an interesting, but exciting process. Click To Tweet
2. The Quirks, Listen for Them
Once you have the basics of your character, that’s when you have fun. Some of these are going to come naturally, based on your story, some will be choices you make. One that comes to mind for me is the main love interest in this story is coming out of a messy divorce. The situation of coming out of a divorce gives a lot of characterization to him, allowing him to be a little aloof for the book.
The details of a character are what makes that character something special, someone we remember even after we put the book down. Those details also make your character human – give them baggage, make them do shitty things, make them contradict themselves because we do all of that as humans.
I will say, little details like this – write them down. We don’t always remember details, the quirks, that make our characters our characters. We’re human, we forget things. But staying true and consistent with those details is a big part of the overall story.
3. Know What You Need From Your Character
From the get-go, I had expectations for Emily. I knew what her job was going to be and I knew that she would be very different from Cassie. Since I’ve worked with Cassie so long, I know how that character thinks, really well. It’s easy to get inside Cassie’s mind, it’s kind of dark and a little bit terrible.
Since Emily’s story is more of a cozy mystery (not so dark and more of an emphasis on the friendships and the relationships), I need her to be a little more….bubbly. And while she’s more bubbly than Cassie is, I still feel like Emily has a little bit of me in her. Interests, career, things like that are much similar to me than anything I had in relation with Cassie.
But yes, you can definitely give your characters little bits of yourself.
When it comes to creating that main character, you want to create a full person, a 360-degree view of everything in a human – the good, the bad, and the really ugly.
How do you tackle creating a new character?