How to create a solid character - Lory Fernandes

by Lory Fernandes
4 weeks ago

The process for creating characters for me is, sometimes, as important as creating the story itself. This is because I feel like I have to know them, their aspirations, fears, dreams, to be able to write about them (what doesn’t mean I have to know their entire lives).

I have two processes of creating personas, and both of them are really helpful to me (and also fun). They happen when I need:

1. I know where the character is in the story, but I need to develop him

When you think about a story, it usually comes with a “who.” Your story had to be happening to someone. Otherwise, it’s not a story.
Let’s say you thought about the plot and what will happen to the character (or characters) in it. Now you need to develop them.
People always have a background. Where did they come from? Do they have parents? Do they like their parents? What are their dreams or fears? The answers to those questions are the ones that will help you build your characters personalities and lives.
Sometimes you get so caught up in writing, that you forget that these things forge one’s self. The person’s past can’t be ignored, even if you’re trying to tell the story of his future.
If you don’t pay attention to this and put a challenge in your character’s way, you might not be able to predict their reaction, and it’ll make him shallow and sometimes too obvious.

2. A specific character to fill a place in the story

Sometimes I have a minor plot that needs to be filled by someone. If this is not the main character or characters that are important to the story, I probably didn’t think about them before.
What I do is thinking about what would make this minor person interesting somehow, even if he is bound to not appear often on the book.
Last month I was writing a chapter of my book, the Moonless World, and I had to write about a spirit the main character met. I didn’t know if he would be relevant to the main plot in the long run, but I knew I didn’t want him to be plain and simple, so I thought “What would be a good personality for this spirit?” I wanted something that would make my readers (and the main character) interested in what he had to say.
It led me to a bitter and cynical man, that was unhappy about his death but somehow was used to it. I still don’t know his entire life story, but it’s easy for me now to write about him.

I also have a third process that doesn’t apply to everyone, since it involves role-playing. You might have already noticed I love it and it takes a huge part in my writing.
I often create characters for role-playing games, which involves making their stories, thinking about what they want, their personalities, powers (if applicable) and what are their goals.
Many characters in my newest book (Moonless World) come from an RPG I played a few years ago and maybe because I played with them so much, I was able to get to know them and understand how they could fit in the story.

I know this is no the most orthodox way of creating, but even if I’m not playing, I try to think about new characters as if they’re in an RPG, so I know they’ll be complete.

It sometimes helps me thinking how my character would react in the real world or think of myself in a different world. Even if the character is fictional, it doesn’t mean he has to seem unrealistic.

Whatever you do to create your characters, try to think out of the box. Be creative about it. Think about what you want to read and voilà… You’ve got it.

Author: Lory Fernandes

Lory Fernandes is from Salvador, Brazil, although she suspects she was born in the wrong city. Maybe in the wrong planet. She has a degree in Graphic Design, took some years of drawing classes and is pursuing her graduation in Animation. She is an aspiring illustrator and dreams of becoming a fantasy writer.

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