Writing Tips for Beginners: Creating Your Main Character(s)

So you want to be a writer? (Am I the only one who’s reminded of ‘SO YOU WANNA BE A MASTER OF POKÉMON! DO YOU HAVE THE SKILLS TO BE NUMBER ONE?!’ No? Okay)

Let’s say you have a brilliant idea for a story and you don’t know where to start. Personally, I always create my main characters first, but that’s completely up to you. These tips are going to be in my personal order. You do not have to follow it. That’s (again) completely up to you. So this time I will be focusing on creating characters, specifically your main character(s).

First of all, names. If you aren’t very good at coming up with names, check out a few of these websites:

BabyBytes (Dutch)
NamePlayground
Last Name Generator
Online Name Generator (first and last name)
Behind the Name
List of Most Common Surnames in Great-Britain

Alright, so you’ve named your character. Personally, I always fill out things like this:

Name:
Age:
Birthday:
Nickname(s):
Appearance: (don’t forget height and weight)
Personality: (try to balance out the good and the bad traits. Three good traits means three bad traits as well. No one is kind, selfless, loyal and stubborn. They can’t just have one bad trait)
Hobbies:

Optional:
Weapon:
Favourite type of music:
Favourite band:
Favourite song:
Favourite author:
Favourite book(s):
Favourite food:
Dreams and goals:
Fears:

If they’re kids/teenagers, you might want to think about what kind of school they go to, what kind of classes they follow, what they study etc. Same of course for college students. Your character might have a job as well, which is a lot more likely for adult characters. If they don’t have a job, why not? We’re they fired? Did they just get out of college and haven’t been able to find a job yet? Are they focusing at school? Did they quit themselves? Are they disabled? Are they taking care of a family member? The above chart is the foundation of the character, but there is of course a lot more to your character than that.

Backstory
What I personally find the most important thing when creating a character, is a backstory. Your character is most likely not a newborn baby, so they have gone through things. These things have made them who they are today, whether they are positive or negative. You don’t have to write ten pages of background story for one character, it totally depends on what your character has been through and you don’t have to. There’s no law that says you are not allowed to write a book if you haven’t written a backstory. I just highly recommend it. I didn’t do it befor I wrote my first draft. I did it after, before my second and I know my characters so much better now. Which sounds silly, because they’re my characters so I should know them anyway, right?

Relationships with other characters
This of course doesn’t count for characters your character hasn’t met yet, but assuming he or she isn’t living on a deserted island, they are surrounded by people: family, friends, classmates, teachers, co-workers, their boss, neighbours etc. Of course, if their neighbours never appear in the story, you don’t have to worry about them. Their family and friends are most important. Do they have a good relationship with their family? Is their family kind to them, or is it a very abusive (physical and/or mental) environment?
How did they meet their friends? Are they very close, like siblings? Do they fight often? Do they tell each other everything?
If there’s already a special someone at the beginning of the story, you might want to think about how they met, if they got along immediately, when they started going out, how serious it is, does your character really love the other person etc.
If you know how your character feels about the people around them, it’s a lot easier to write dialogues between your characters (at least that was the case for me).

These are the things I do when creating a character: come up with the basic information, their background and their relationships with (important) characters in their lives. I hope this was at least a little bit useful! Here are some other useful websites for creating characters (which you can also find in my masterpost)

Character Chart
Online Family Tree Maker
The Massive List of Hobbies
List of Character Traits

Next time I’ll focus on minor characters, but major enough for them to have at least a little bio. School’s starting again tomorrow (*sigh*) and since it’s my senior year I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog. I’ll queue some posts today, and whenever I have time to blog I’ll queue some more posts, just so that this blog won’t die.

– The Writing Hufflepuff

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2 thoughts on “Writing Tips for Beginners: Creating Your Main Character(s)

  1. […] Last time I talked about creating main characters, but your story is likely to have minor characters as well. Your minor characters don’t appear as much as your major characters, so you don’t have to know that much about them. I personally write down their full name, age, looks and some important information. Here’s an example of one of my own minor characters: […]

  2. […] Last time I talked about creating main characters, but your story is likely to have minor characters as well. Your minor characters don’t appear as much as your major characters, so you don’t have to know that much about them. I personally write down their full name, age, looks and some important information. Here’s an example of one of my own minor characters: […]

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