Your characters are probably an inspiration to you, as well as to your readers. So, creating creatures of habit and cool nerdy kids with moral and/or ethical qualities is crucial if you want those individuals connecting to your characters. I want to be clear… Even the worst of your villains needs to relate to his or her audience. Over the next few days let’s discover different characteristics to consider, take the TARDIS out for a spin to the past and the future, and play with what if scenarios. All together they’ll help you create your own Mr. Darcy, Tempe Brennan, Simon Lewis, or Katniss Everdeen.
I have a few fun ideas for exploring a character’s personality and moral compass. Here’s a list of 638 personality traits; positive, neutral, and negative. Once you’ve worked out 6-10 main traits for your character (make sure you select some of each type), you can start working out any ethical strengths and weaknesses they have. The key to any great character is finding out their flaws in addition to their strong points. This process can easily be used as a writing exercise to help at the beginning of a new story idea, or to work through writer’s block.
Here’s a wacky example using a character from Decent, Alexis:
Honest, Passionate, Strong, Sarcastic, Cute, Impulsive, Tactless, Abrupt
Alexis is honest to a fault and some girls may think she’s mean, but she really just lacks a filter and that’s where her best friend Ollie fits in. Ollie is a sounding board, and has a knack for helping Alexis see the big picture. Alexis has always felt compelled to say what she means, because everyone thinks she’s so ‘cute’ that she couldn’t possibly take care of herself. She holds honesty and truth close to her heart, and if someone can’t handle her sarcasm it’s really not her problem. But, cute boys are another story.
Once you have a good idea of who you’re dealing with, you’ll want to take a trip into your character’s past and future. In Part 2, we’ll take a trip down your character’s memory lane, as well as to their ever after, so stay tuned…