Once you’ve figured out what your character’s name will be, and what basic personality traits they will have, it’s important to go deeper, and get an even better understand of “who” your character is. It’s helpful to keep a file, or even a separate Word document with all of your character information to refer back to.
Here are some things you may want to know about your character:
1.) When is their birthday?
2.) How old are they?
3.) What do they look like?
4.) Do they have a family? How many siblings? Are their parents still alive? Do they have any children of their own? Do they have a husband, or a wife, or a significant other, or a best friend?
5.) Do they have any enemies?
6.) What do the other characters like about this character?
7.) What do the other characters dislike about this character?
8.) What are they good at?
9.) What are they bad at?
10.) What do they do? Do they go to school, do they have a job? What hobbies do they have? What do they do for fun? What movies do they like? What books do they like? What music do they like?
11.) Are they optimistic or pessimistic?
12.) What are their favorite foods?
13.) What are they afraid of?
14.) What is their favorite color?
15.) Do they have any pets?
16.) What do they carry in their purse, pocket, backpack, wallet, etc.?
17.) Has anything bad happened to them in their life?
18.) Are they shy or friendly?
19.) How do they walk, talk, and behave that makes them different from everyone else?
20.) Do they have any bad habits?
21.) What sort of facial expressions do they make?
22.) How would they react to good news? To bad news?
23.) Why should we care about them, anyway?
The main thing to remember when creating your characters is to make them believable. Nobody’s going to believe, or even like, a perfect character. Characters need flaws, just like real people need flaws. It’s what sets them apart and makes them different. Find that one thing that makes your character different and run with it. Readers embrace imperfection in characters. It makes the characters more relatable, and everyone wants to relate in some way to the characters they’re getting to know.
As Steven Taylor Goldsberry says in The Writer’s Book of Wisdom, “We adore eccentricity. Most of the folks who populate the real world, never mind invented ones, distinguish themselves by being unusual.”
He’s right. Uniqueness is important. Use your imagination to create a character that people will remember.