My ongoing quest to create intriguingly mysterious outrageously sexy and sensually unbelievable realistic characters... Or Hey, who is that guy?
I'm working on creating several characters for a new story, yet again. Now I know other writers who don't use or need a deep process to make their characters work for them in a story. They can just start writing and the character comes alive for them and develops on its own. I say great for them.
As for me, I need something more. Maybe it's because I usually write SFR but I really have to know inside and out, those who are the people, or aliens as the case may be in my story in order to make them realistic.
I don't use the typical character sketch lists you see floating around everywhere. I prefer a great method created by romance author, Alice Orr. She holds workshops on writing and in my opinion, this is one of her best.
Here is a very brief description of her character method:
Just start writing about your character from birth to the present and let it rip. You can go back and fill in blank spaces later if need be. Look inside your character and see what makes him/her tick--what they feel about everything from being born to the nicks along the way of life. How they relate and handle everything. Ask your character questions. Write it like you're writing an article about someones life, or doing an interview. It really feels like uncovering a mystery. Then you'll have something to pull from when writing your story. Having the plot idea in mind first is helpful in creating your characters. That way they won't be hanging there out of context.
For me, this method does make sense and my characters seem to become so much stronger and more real. Since I do a lot of Sci-Fi world building and alien characters, I've found this process truly opens up my worlds. It does helps me uncover things I may miss in the new world or culture I'm creating. Really. Because to know my characters well is to know more about their cultural life too. Once I get going with it, my characters reveal hidden secrets about themselves and their world that I may not have even thought about.
Oh, and did I mention it's great fun. It doesn't take forever either. The other perk is that doing this can jump start a lagging creative process, and thus helps me get that story written.
I actually do this for all my characters, secondary and villains as well. All I can say is, this works for me. I feel I create better stories and deeper characters than if I just started writing without this character building process.
Anyway, I'm just sharing what helps me as a writer. How about you? What is your process when creating a new character? Do you have something you can share that has helped you along the way?
(In the photo: V-MODA clothing designed by Terri King.)