Creating characters can be tricky.
They need to feel real to the reader or the reader will roll their eyes or shake their heads…and stop reading. I always tell writers to make a list of fifty facts about their characters to get started. This way they’ll have a list of facts to work with as they draft. They’ll also see pattern begin to form and their personalities develop—just like a real person. But sometimes instead of hitting the magic number of 50 or whatever number you’re trying to get to, it’s easier to just let your mind wander as you brainstorm character traits.
Not sure what I mean? I’ll begin creating a character profile on myself, starting with my likes and dislikes. Then I’ll let you decide for yourself, how you would turn me into an actual character.
Things I Like:
Smoothies, raviolis, enchiladas, and pizza
Caramel iced coffee, chai tea, flavored coffee with sweet cream creamer, and Diet Coke
Snickerdoodle cookies, cinnamon coffee cake, and vanilla cake with buttercream frosting
Chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, and black raspberry ice cream
Heath Bars and Werthers
(Notice, I like treats!)
Disney World, Cape Cod, Hilton Head, and Bermuda
Cute coffee shops, wood fired pizza places, and bookstores
Coffee dates, lunch dates, and dinner dates
Castles, motivational anything, and Christmas
Being home, decorating, Marshalls, Home Goods, and Wegmans.
Yoga, hikes, kayaking, and lying out by the pool.
Chatting with my kids and chatting with their friends
Chatting about books
Clothes, shoes, and purses
Stranger Things, Friends, This is Us, How to Get Away with Murder, Colony, and The Young and the Restless
Cheering for my husband and kids
Editing College Essays
Imagination and writing about kids with imagination
Little kids, babies, and puppies
Gymnastics, tennis, and cheerleading
The Olympics, the Red Sox, and riding in carriages
Weddings, fancy hotels, and dressing up.
Family time and fairy tales
Thinks I Don’t Like:
Driving in snow
Not being organized
A messy house and being late
Running out of creamer
When my kids are sad
Not living in a warm climate, or a castle
Not being a princess
Snakes, mice, and bugs
Cleaning the house
Speaking in front of large groups
The fact that I haven’t invented anything
Not having enough time
The fact that I haven’t invented a way to stretch time.
So that’s that. There’s probably more—actually there is more, but as least you get the idea. If this was your character’s list of favorite things and not so favorite things, from there you would be able to create a profile.
What makes her tick? What types of things make her happy? What motivates her? What terrifies her? What does she dream of? If these answers are not on the list, you’ll know where you need to fill in the blanks. You’ll know what parts of her personality you need to develop. You’ll also have some fun things to use as filler throughout the story, like her favorite foods, favorites places to visit—or least favorite school subjects.
As you create the profile, you can get even more in depth by asking questions like, what was her most embarrassing moment or what was her most traumatic experience? The deeper you go, the better you’ll know your character—and that’s the goal. If your character feels like a real person to you, she’ll certainly feel like a real person to your reader too!
What about you? What tricks do you use for creating characters? Do you use a list similar to this or just wing it as you write your draft?
Speaking of drafting, it feels like forever since I’ve worked on something new. I think I’m going to have to change that.
If you read through my list, you may have noticed I have a thing for them! Who knows? Maybe my next book will be a fairy tale:)
Have a great Monday, my lovelies. I hope you enjoyed reading my lists! See you next week!