Character Building for Creative Writers

character buildingAny creative writer can tell you the hardest part about writing creatively. However, you will likely end up with a different answer from every writer. Some writers have problems starting the first page, and others have difficulties creating and keeping to plot. If you’re having difficulties creating characters, try these helpful tips and tricks. Take a course in creative writing to turn your ideas into pages of your book.

Write Down the Basics of Your Character

In an article written by Chuck Sambuchino in the Writer’s Digest, he discusses the nine “ingredients” that make up a good character. These can be considered the basics of your character because they make up the word CHARACTER. Here are the nine ingredients from Chuck Sambuchino’s article:

  • Communication style: Describe your character’s voice, how she speaks, and any slang or special words she might use.
  • History: This is where you describe your character’s past, their childhood and what shaped their personality. You might include their family life and events that led to their present job.
  • Appearance: Describe your character in as much detail as you possibly can. It will paint a picture for your readers.
  • Relationships: Relationships define a person, and they will define your character too. Who they hang out with will give the reader a good idea of what kind of person they are.
  • Ambition: This is the part of your character that will help drive your story. What is it that he or she wants? What are they driving for? You will use your character’s ambition to create the plot.
  • Character defect: No one is perfect, and one of the best things that will make your character real for your readers is his or her defect.
  • Thoughts: Does the character’s inner monologue match with her external voice? If not, it might create internal conflict.
  • Everyman-ness: Just how relatable is your character? Try to relate your character to your reader as much as you possibly can.
  • Restrictions: Every person has some kind of physical or mental weakness whether they’re willing to use that or not. Use this to increase your character’s relatability to your reader.

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Ask Your Character Questions

Many writers will tell you it can be a lot easier to write your characters if you channel them onto the paper. A great way to do this is to ask your character questions and answer them in the way you imagine your character would. There are a great number of questions you could ask your character, and a great way to get started is to check out this list of one hundred or more questions to ask your characters. Ready to start writing? Try joining a novel writing workshop for more help.

Try Using Some Helpful Worksheets or Other Resources

You have probably heard the phrase “reinventing the wheel.” Basically, you shouldn’t try to invent something that has already been invented. If you’re still having problems trying to create your characters, don’t think you’re just going to have to push on and go it alone. There are plenty of writers who have gone before you who have left a lot of helpful worksheets behind. Get some help publishing your work on Kindle Fire with this helpful course.

This particular worksheet is from The Writer’s Craft, and it goes into far more detail than the nine ingredients offered by Chuck Sambuchino. It offers further help for describing your character’s appearance, has important questions that you should write in your character’s voice, and help with making your character relatable to your reader.

If you need help with creating your character’s personality, you might want to consider checking out Myers-Briggs personality types. You might have found that your character’s appearance is perfect, their flaws are just enough to make them relatable, but you find that their personality seems to be lacking or conflict with everything else. Read over the Myers-Briggs personality types to help you rebuild your character.

As stated before, try to avoid reinventing the wheel. If you can find something online that you can use to help you, there’s no point in trying to come up with your own method. Writing is a craft, and while working with that craft, plenty of writers have collected tons of resources you can use to help better your writing. Karen Woodward has a whole page dedicated to writing resources, and the third item on the list is character building. Check out her list of resources for more help writing your characters.