Character creation assistance

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What’s in a Character?

Remember: These are simply suggestions/ideas. The creator is the final authority on who his/her characters are.

Edit: Added generators to get those neurons going!

I believe it would be best for me to begin by stating where the bare bones of a character seem to consistently lie. Now, quite obviously, one’s favorite characters from tv shows or webcomics likely have a lot of meat on their bones; this should be the case, considering that they have been developed consistently over a long period of time, and even then they had to start somewhere.

Now, to begin. There are 4 things that make an initial sketch of a character more easy to develop and understand:

  • An adjective. This is certainly one of the most important parts of the character because it forms the barest outline of who that person/thing is. It can also become the foundation on which a character is built. For instance, say I wanted a “smooth” character…a man. One can immediately begin to get a few inklings of what kind of character I’m aiming for. A 20’s gangster? A 50’s greaser? An alien hipster? Doesn’t matter. He’s smooth…and that already narrows the field down a bit.Warning! Do not use words like “sad” or “hot.”These words are way to general for even the barest bones of a character. Try to pick more specific terms. Instead of “sad,” she could be “melancholy” or “gloomy.” Instead of “hot,” he’s “fiery” or “luring.” More interesting adjectives make more interesting characters. Here’s a good generator to get you started; you might want a dictionary!
  • A setting. This is where you take that adjective and apply it. I’ll continue to use the “smooth” character base for this one. The first setting that comes to my mind is a 1920’s jazz bar where smoke curls up from the mouths of “femme-fatales” there and into the hazy cloud just beneath the ceiling. Or perhaps the “smooth” I’m using is a fake “smooth.” The character tries too hard…in a high school or college setting where one makes oneself. Probably some kind of hipster or otherwise “cliqued” character. Again; the field narrows down.
  • A title. I’m not referring to a “Lord of Edinburough, Duke of Westerchire, Muse of Time” sort of title. Something more simple. Again, we’ll go back to the “smooth” character and say he’s from the 1920s. He’s going to need a fitting role. The 1920s in the US were the “Roaring Twenties.” There were flappers, jazz clubs, cigarettes abound, and the first movies. A “smooth” character would probably be hanging around a jazz club, flirting with the flappers and being such a gentleman that women practically fall into his arms. At the same time, though, the 1920s for me evoke pictures of the first gangsters. The underground mobs. Mister Smooth here probably has some dark dealings going down at night. He’s a “mafia gunman.” Simple as that!
  • A name. Some characters don’t have names when one first meets them, but that’s to preserve mystery about its identity. It’s easier to refer to a new character as “Charlotte” than “that one….um….that one cigarette-selling chick….” If one has trouble coming up with a fitting name, that’s okay. It can take days for me to come up with the right jumble of letters befitting my newest character. Sometimes the meaning of the name helps to make the character’s personality more clear. Mister Smooth Gunman would likely have a smooth, dark name that’s a little old-fashioned. Something like Mortimer or Ralph. I can narrow it down as I go along. There are hundreds of name generators out there for you— here’s a favorite of mine.

Have any questions? Shoot me one!

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