The Characters We Craft…


All About the Characters

Thank you so much for being a reader of my posts, whether you’re here for the first time or you’ve been reading my words for years. This wouldn’t be a blog community without you.

On Wednesdays I like to share what I’ve learned on my writing, publishing and marketing journey. The type of information I wish someone would have shared with me when I started on this crazy, crooked but exciting and rewarding path.

One of my favorite things to do is people watch.

Sitting on a boardwalk bench at the New Jersey Shore is and endless source of character inspiration. I can’t help but smile when I see an elderly couple holding hands.

Watching couples and imagining how ‘they’ ended up with one another, how long they’ve been together and oh so funny are the couples that don’t even like each other anymore, they are so easy to spot.

If it’s too cold for boardwalk sitting the mall is another alternative. Have a notebook with you and jot down whatever you find interesting especially the first thought that comes to mind when you see someone that causes you to look twice.

Learning to create and bring to life to or in the case of nonfiction to believably describe the most memorable characters takes time and practice.

The characters we craft are the life of our stories.

It’s our job to give them a body type, moods, emotions, characteristics, a family, friends, education and a career. We also need to give them a past.

We give them life so they can bear the burden of showing the reader our story.

You don’t want to start a story by using an entire chapter to ‘tell’ your reader everything there is to know about your main characters. You do want to give them enough of a brief description, one that allows them to form a picture of that character in their mind.

As the story moves forward you can reveal more and more of whom exactly your characters are through the actions and reactions of the characters themselves.

Not only do you need to craft who your character is, but you need to craft where they came from as well as where they are going and most importantly who they are going to become while on this journey.

What is their birthday? Are they religious? Did something terrify them as a child and cause them to be a certain way as an adult? Do they have allergies? What is their favorite color? Did they feel abandoned, where they spoiled?

One of the most important things you will give your characters is their name.

Let’s face it when we hear certain names it conjures certain images in our heads. Would Tiffany be the leader of a female motorcycle gang? Personally, I think she could be, and her back story might be fascinating.
When choosing character names, I often use baby name lists from the year my character was born.

I also love using old death records and my favorite go to for choosing names is the Bible.

Creating files on my characters helps me keep them organized.

The file isn’t always complete when I start the story, I’m always adding details. That way I can insure, the character’s consistency, and I have a record if I want to use a character or characters again, maybe in a series.

It sounds cliché but I like to think of my characters as onions.

I peel off a little bit at a time, getting to know them slowly verses dumping them out onto the page and revealing everything at once.

Most of our characters are based on someone we know in real life or someone we’ve gotten to know onscreen, maybe a celebrity. After all we wouldn’t be able to describe them if we didn’t have some sort of a picture formed in our minds.

Sometimes while watching TV or a movie a character will stand out for me. Soap Operas and reality TV are good sources too. With a soap opera actor or actress, you can watch the character for days, learning something new about them every day.

I sometimes go through magazines to look for my characters.

I cut them out and put them on a vision board.

A vision board is simply a cork bulletin board you can use pushpins to hold photos; magazine images of locations, settings or people and any items that might inspire your writing. I keep it close by as I write.

Keeping something on your desk that reminds you of the character or the place you are writing about can be inspiring.

If I’m writing a beach scene it helps to have a few seashells or some sand on my desk. It may seem silly, but it does help the creative process.

Do you have any suggestions for creating memorable characters?
Happy writing,

One Response to “The Characters We Craft…”

  • Rena:

    It’s funny my husband and I are both people watchers. We like to invent their life stories. I never once considered using it for character inspiration. How simple but yet how genius!

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