So many articles and advice on how to create character and making them come to life. I have and continue to read on how to do this because like every other author, I want to make lasting characters. Characters that readers are thinking about long after they’ve finished reading the novel. So in every project I write, I’m constantly thinking about how to make this character or these characters as three dimensional and intricate as possible.
How do I do this you ask?
By drawing on characteristics from people I’ve come in contact with and even people I know, including myself. I don’t stop there. I draw on qualities I’ve seen on television and movies. I also draw on my imagination. In other words, how do I imagine this character will act, what they will say, how they will react to their environment, their mannerisms etcetera. In creating my characters I also consider the storyline and the world they live in because there are external forces that play on them and determines how they see fit to handle situations. And because I like intricacies, I try to throw in internal struggles as well. Backstory or at least a vested interest is what I shoot for. Then I mesh it all together. No matter the outcome, each main character has to have a motive.
Now for names.
This is totally out of order but it doesn’t matter. Before I crank out a main character I always pick a name. Name picking isn’t hard for me. There are plenty of sources for picking names. Movie credits, phone books, newspaper articles, baby books and the like. The only one I’ve ever used was a baby name book. The others I’ve never actually used but I’ve heard from other writers that these make good sources for names. Ninety-nine percent of the time I use my own made up names because I like off the wall names that sound cool. I also keep a character name list so that I keep track of the names I like and can use for later. Once I’ve picked a name I like, then it’s off to the profile, motives, mannerisms and well, you know, we’ve been through that already.
Is this a hard thing to do?
I think creating characters that will be remembered is a hard thing to do in one book (but it is possible) and that’s probably why a series is created. Over the span of a book series readers can get to know characters and become invested in them. This is a problem for me because I don’t really care for series or sequels (even though I can and will at some point probably write one. Oh yeah, I’m writing a sequel now). The reason I don’t go for sequels is because, for me, if you’re going to do a sequel, the sequel has to at least be equal to if not better than the first. In the case of a novel series, you have a main character that’s featured in all of them and these are the characters people tend to become attached to. When the series ends, it’s hard for readers to let go. That’s a memorable character. Now can a memorable character come through in one novel with no sequel or series? Of course! In my personal opinion these kind of characters tend to be endearing or have endearing qualities that make them hard to forget. This includes anti-hero characters as well.
Regardless of the novel, whether it’s a single title or series or whether hero or anti-hero, the main characters have got to make an impression on the reader. That’s the goal every time.