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Create a Character in Five Quick Steps

brown horse illustrating a post about how to create a characterLearning how to create a character can be a challenge.

There are various ways to approach it. Some are quite complicated and can be off-putting to a new writer.

Others can be great on paper but they tend to be too academic – meaning they create totally unbelievable characters.

I drew up my quick and easy five-step plan to simplify the process and help you do the most important thing – get on with your writing.

FIVE QUICK STEPS TO CREATE A CHARACTER

1. PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

This is just one starting point. You can start just as well from some basic personality traits or from secrets – it is up to you.

Read through this page before you start and then and decide for yourself exactly where you would like to begin.

Male or Female 

Age

Occupation 

Appearance – Face & Body

Style

Posture

Gait

2. PERSONALITY – OUTWARD

What do you first see when you encounter this character? Remember, your first impressions can change – ever watch Big Brother?

Cheerful 

Honest

Dour

Devious

Sly

Strong

Weak

Deep

Bossy

Intimidating

3. PERSONALITY – REAL

This is more interesting. It may be an aspect of the outward personality mixed with something deep, something hidden.

Maybe your cheerful character arranges their features into a smile every morning but inside they’re screaming. Maybe that cheerful, helpful personality masks a strong Machiavellian streak.

Depressed

Sneaky

Afraid

Cold

Bitter

Dishonest

4. WHAT’S THEIR SECRET?

Secrets are a great way to delve into a character’s mind and fantastic for mining ideas for plots.

A secret can influence the way a person behaved in the past, now, and into the future.

The secret you find for your character doesn’t have to be drastic like a murder. It could be something much different: a difficulty with maths, or missing toe, a secret can influence the story you choose for your character.

Have they committed a crime in the past?

Are they a member of club they wouldn’t openly admit to?

Are they secretly bald?

Do they keep an illness or disability secret?

Did they fake their qualifications?

5. FEARS

Fear can drive a character, or it can stop them. Someone who cannot stop working could be afraid of poverty or they could be using it as a barrier to developing relationships – they could be afraid of intimacy.

Loneliness

Illness

Career failure

Dogs

Lightening

Poverty

Success

 

By now you will have read this whole page – I hope!

If you have, then go ahead and choose a starting point to create a character. If not, please go back and read it again – it really helps!

You might have decided to start with step 5 – fears and then go on to decide how they look – step 1.

The choice is yours – writers are all different.

Best of luck.

Grace

P.S. You may like to read this article here about how I created a character based on a very old memory for my latest book.


My book, Practical Creative Writing Exercises has helped many writers lose their writer’s block and got them started on great stories.

It is packed full of information and exercises.

For a short time the book is priced at less than the price of a cup of coffee – so now is the best time to get yours.

Book cover - Practical Creative Writing Exercises by Grace Jolliffe illustrating an article about illustrating an article for writers about how to create a character

 

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