So, first I want to tell you to get your butts over to my social platforms! I’m talking about my (soon to be released) fantasy romance, Soul Bearer, in a July challenge for the next couple weeks, and you should check it out. 🙂 Also, check out World Indie Warriors (the group hosting the challenge) if you want to participate. There will be a giveaway at the end.
Now, with the plug behind me, I want to talk about the work that goes into building a character. Because there’s a lot of work involved.
You don’t just come up with a name, their appearance and favorite color, and then that’s it. That would make for some shitty characters, and an even shittier book.
So, here we go. Because no one wants to read a half ass book full of characters as vivid as the pages of a brand new coloring book.
Okay, first (and most obvious thing) is their personality. Snippy? Compassionate? Ice queen?
Pick one per character, and fucking stick to it. Unless a plot point catalyzes a personality change. If someone is super kind and sweet and optimistic and soft spoken, and they have everything ripped away from them, don’t fucking tell me they won’t ever question the point of caring.
Life changes us. Why wouldn’t it change the characters? We need to see how they develop, what they learn, what they struggle with…
Now, you have to figure out why they’re that way. You don’t get to just say, “Because I want them to be that way.”
Nah. That’s some bullshit.
So, this is where their past comes into play. Some people are naturally shy, yes, but has their life intensified that? Or maybe it taught them to come out of their shell.
Or maybe they pushed through all sorts of hardship, through sheer force of will, because they don’t see any option but to keep going.
You have to plot out a past that helps to shape them into the person they are, and makes sense.
Keep in mind, it has to make sense. Unlike real life, people expect fiction to be believable. If I threw every shitty experience I’ve ever had at one character, people would throw the book away.
“Oh, of course she walks out on the front porch, first thing in the fucking morning, and finds a dead kitten, in pieces. Of fucking course.”
(Side story, but yeah, that actually happened. One mama cat had her baby, her first litter, and it didn’t make it. My husband and I couldn’t get to it to bury it, because we’re not cat size. Another mama wanted the spot a couple weeks later, got the dead kitten out, and promptly deposited it on the front porch for us to see. Not a good day.)
So, you have to meter the trauma. Spread it out a bit, make it believable. Look at statistics. Study psychology to see how shit affects people. Make it believable.
Give them quirks and habits and odd behaviors to make them real and relatable.
Now, there’s the issue of friends. If your MC likes who they are, they’ll probably seek out people with at least some similarities. If they dislike themselves, they might have friends who are their opposite.
People seek out friends and significant others who embody traits they find desirable. That’s why there are so many books and movies where shy girls befriend super outgoing party girls, and vice versa.
Or, maybe they want to be around people like themselves for the sake of common ground, even if they don’t like their own personality. Because then they can be miserable together.
My point is, there needs to be a reason (aside from convenience for your plot) for them to willingly surround themselves with these people.
And then there’s family life to consider. Good childhood vs. bad, and what made it that way. What influenced their thinking as they grew and developed?
Chances are, since they’re your MC, their childhood was probably shit. Or maybe it was fantastic, until they reached adulthood, and then everything went to shit, making them the equivalent of a 90s kid. A bitter, nostalgic adult wishing the world looked like the one they were promised as a child.
Oof. That may have been too real.
We’re talking about fiction here…lmao.
Anyway…Making people is incredibly complicated.
Read up on psychology. It helps. This wasn’t what I intended to use my bachelor’s degree for (I planned to go to grad school, and become a therapist), but I like this use of it better. This career path is for me.
Becoming a therapist was just so people wouldn’t question my career choice. Because no one questions that. They just say they know a few people who need to come see you, and offer to send you clients. Lol.
Though…it is ironic. I didn’t want to spend hour after hour hunched over a desk or worrying about whether people would hurt themselves or others because of something I said wrong. Now, I’m trying to make a career out of spending hour after hour…working away at my computer…worrying over which people will hurt others or themselves…because of things I say…Lmao.
But it’s fictional people. And that makes it okay. Lol.
Alright. I’ve rambled long enough.
I’m more than halfway through this round of edits for The Gem of Meruna, with a possible cover. I’m a quarter of the way through the final edits of Soul Bearer, and am introducing it on IG and FB.
Forward progress. 🙂
I’m pretty excited.
Keep reading. Keep writing.