Every writer who has ever written any form of a story has had the task of creating original characters. There is no getting around it, and there is no way to cheat (taking another author’s characters is frowned upon). But there is a way to make it easier for those of us who have trouble creating original characters (OCs).
A way to make it easier, you say?
Yes, I do say. It is possible. And I think it is quite fun.
Maybe you need help finding the initial inspiration for your character. You may know the name, and maybe the age, but you don’t know anything else about the character. You need to “meet” the character, basically. Have a conversation, introduce yourself, and learn the character’s basic personality.
Or maybe you’ve already “met” your character, but you need help fleshing them out. I have this problem all the time, and I’m currently doing this with Ann, the main character of In Wildcat Hollow. I have the general idea of what I want Ann to be like and act like, but I don’t know how to solidify that into a believable, complex character that readers will love.
So here I am, once again, telling you the things that have helped me (and still help me!) in my writing, hoping that it helps you too. So, off we go!
I have a playlist for every main character I have written. I listen to them when I am doing character development or writing from a certain character’s point of view. It really helps me to figure out the character’s voice and emotions when I am listening to music.
I find the songs based upon the character’s beliefs, backstory, emotions, or personality. Most of the time, the song just clicks in my head, and I know it’s perfect for a certain character (or more than one). It may be hard to start the playlist, but after you do, songs will just continue to be “the perfect song for this character!”
Most of my character playlists are on Apple Music but I’ve recently been using Spotify also because it is easier to share the playlist with others through Spotify. But your playlist could be anywhere, or you might just want to make a list of the songs attributed to your character instead of making a playlist.
If you’re interested, here’s Ann’s playlist.
Character Mood Boards
You can use Pinterest to gain a visual understanding of your character, whether its the way they look or the way their personality feels. I use mood boards a whole bunch while writing. It is great inspiration for while you are writing or for sending out to your readers so that they can get a feel of the character too.
Some mood boards are already made on Pinterest, but they might not be exactly what you are looking for. You may just want to search for aesthetic pictures that you feel might describe your character (eg. search “yellow” or “pale” for a light, bubbly character).
The problem with using Pinterest for this, however, is that the pictures are not free and often are not given credit to their original owner. Sometimes people get mad when their pictures are reposted without credit. This is why I normally stick with Unsplash.
Unsplash is super easy to use and isn’t given enough credit. All you have to do is create an account and then create a “collection” to put all of your aesthetic pictures in. I love using it because the pictures are fantastic quality and are often taken by professional photographers.
Additional Things to Do
Another thing I do is search quotes about a specific subject through Pinterest. Many times I will find a quote that describes my character perfectly that I pin on the character board along with the pictures.
Something else I’ve heard is a great thing for inspiration is muse boards. That’s where you print out your pictures and quotes to attach to a board above where you write. They say it’s good inspiration to look at while your writing. I haven’t done it because I find it easier to keep all the pictures on my computer.
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