Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login


Note: I wrote this after reading a similar article in The Writer magazine about a year ago.  Hope it's helpful!

Not all characters are created equal.  Here are some steps to make yours superior.

1) Desire

Figure out what your character wants, needs, desires.  A closer relationship with God?  A place to belong?  Just to survive?  Figure it out.  You can’t move on to number 2 until you have.

2) Fear

Now that you know what your character most desires, you should be able to figure out what he/she most fears.  Doing the wrong thing, being alone, death?  They are the polar opposites of your character’s desires.

3) History

Go back in time to before your story begins and create a detailed backstory for your character.  What happened in to past to create in him the desires and fears that he has now?  Be specific.  Write out individual scenes, or at least play them through in you mind (though these never have to be in the actually story).  You need to know your character, to understand the way he thinks.

4) Behavior

After you have all of the above figured out, it’s time to describe the current behavioral patters of your character.  You know why he is the way he is, so it shouldn’t be difficult to give him specific habits and fetishes.  Quirks are what make a character unique and interesting.

5) High Stakes

Raise the stakes as high as you can.  Make your character come to a climactic moment, a moment where he has to choose between desire and fear.  Which will win?  This is the key element of any story.  Without it, the reader will have no motive for investing hours of time in your work.  Put everything on the line.  I mean, come on, this is what makes writing an adventure!

6) Don’t Meddle

This means that the story is now out of your hands.  It belongs to your characters.  Let them do the telling.  Don’t control them, even if it means that they will do something you personally wouldn’t—like eat mayonnaise.  Ug!  Anyhow, just let your characters take on a life of their own.  Remember that it's their story and not yours.  They should be the ones talking!

7) Let Go

Now that you’ve created characters with specific desires, fears, histories, and quirks, it’s time to let them play.  This is where the fun begins.  Throw them together by whatever means your story requires, then sit back at watch what happens.  You may not know what will happen next, but that’s the beauty of writing.  Don’t worry about ultra analyzing or book-length outlines.  Telling the story’s not your job, anyhow.  Let your characters do all the work.  All you have to do is open your imagination and take notes of what they do.
Well, here's a writing tip I wrote a while back for a xanga writing blog/community I used to run. Hope it's helpful!

More of my writing articles can be found here: illuminara.deviantart.com/gall…
Add a Comment:
 
:iconjbvonherb:
JBvonHerb Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Well this is interesting...when I was taking a Creative Writing class in high school my teacher had us do an exercise very similar to this...fave! ^.^
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner May 4, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, thanks! Whatever gets the creative juices flowing. =D
Reply
:icondigital-awesome:
Digital-Awesome Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2011
This is really helpful into making my charecters more intuitive and intresting!
Much appreciated in posting these tips ;D
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, glad you liked it! =D
Reply
:iconhikikumorii:
hikikumoriI Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2010
Don’t Meddle

This means that the story is now out of your hands. It belongs to your characters. Let them do the telling. Don’t control them, even if it means that they will do something you personally wouldn’t—like eat mayonnaise. Ug! Anyhow, just let your characters take on a life of their own. Remember that it's their story and not yours. They should be the ones talking!

Honestly, I don`t understabd what this is.How is so that the characters are out of our hands?!How can they develope on their own?They depend on their creator above all else.How can they do something on their own, before you give it to them?
Reply
:iconwafflepunk:
Wafflepunk Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010
awesome! (but i actually rather like mayonnaise :u)
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I'd heard a rumor that some people do . . . :paranoid:

lol glad you liked it!
Reply
:iconwafflepunk:
Wafflepunk Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2010
NP!
Reply
:iconloola-bean:
LooLa-Bean Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2010  Student Writer
Thanks, this will be very helpful!
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Glad you liked it!
Reply
:iconoctoberpumpkins:
octoberpumpkins Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2010
thanks :)
Reply
:iconshanksilenzikilu:
ShankSilenzikilu Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2010
Oh yeah, I remember reading that before. Don't try to control your characters... I'll make sure not to do that from now on.
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
You're just the referee. That's how I like to see it.
Reply
:iconshanksilenzikilu:
ShankSilenzikilu Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2010
But not one of the World Cup referees.
Reply
:iconbotasu-orichumo:
BOTASU-Orichumo Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2010  Student General Artist
wow amaninz!!!! the point six is my favorite, went your create a character is now independent, you are great
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Indeed.
Reply
:iconbleedinghearts37:
BleedingHearts37 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010
Thankyou for this. I really needed it.
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
:aww: Glad it helped!
Reply
:iconwolfsan11:
Wolfsan11 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
Thanks so much for this, the tips are simple but useful :D And now I've managed to create a character that thinks for herself :la: Thanks!
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Awesome! Glad to hear it. =D
Reply
:iconwolfsan11:
Wolfsan11 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2010
Thank you :)
Reply
:icondendatzi:
Dendatzi Featured By Owner May 20, 2010  Student General Artist
This is full of knowledge and insight, not to mention very helpful!
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner May 20, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. =D
Reply
:icondendatzi:
Dendatzi Featured By Owner May 22, 2010  Student General Artist
I did very much!
Reply
:iconthe-blue-fish:
the-blue-fish Featured By Owner May 18, 2010
Thanks, this was really helpful :D and mayonnaise IS disgusting.....
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner May 18, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Glad you liked it! :aww:
Reply
:iconlukequietus:
LukeQuietus Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes! I HATE mayonnaise! And it's everywhere!
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
I know. It's just disgusting.
Reply
:iconciimoore:
CiiMoore Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2010  Student General Artist
Perfect! I needed a simple reminder/checklist to go over before I started writing. XD
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Glad it helped!
Reply
:iconciimoore:
CiiMoore Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2010  Student General Artist
Thanks for making it available~!
Reply
:iconkawaiibao-chan:
KawaiiBao-chan Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2010
Very useful tips! However, I have a question about desires and fears. Can one it some desires be the same as fears. I know it says they have to be polar opposites but what about things like love? Some people can be afraid of love yet desire it.
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Yes, you're right. I wrote this several years ago, and I've now come to a better, more complete understanding of character development. A lot of times, people fear what they desire and sometimes desire fear itself. I think the main point is simple that, for a story to work, a character needs to have a goal--something to gain--and a fear--something to lose. How the two relate to each other doesn't matter in the long run.

It's all about inner struggle and character growth. In a good character arch, the character will start out wanting something but be to afraid to go after it. Throughout the story, he will overcome that fear in order to get what he wants. But sometimes he fails. It depends on the story you're writing.
Reply
:iconkawaiibao-chan:
KawaiiBao-chan Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2010
That's good to hear. :) That's how it is in real life too. Of course overcoming that fear won't be easy and you have to let the characters be themselves like you said. The characters will be more natural that way instead of the whole, "Believe in yourself." and few seconds later the character is not afraid anymore. xD

I'm what you could an "amateur" when it comes to creating characters and a story. I'd love to check out more of your character tips and writing tips. Writing is not really a career I'm aiming for but it's one of my hobbies and I would like to improve in that as much as possible.
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Indeed.

I've always loved stories, and that's why I've pursued writing. As a career choice, it honestly sucks. :XD: But it's still fun. If you're interested, I just started a writing grouped called #IdeaCentre, which is focused on talking about things like character development and ultimately improving as a writer and storyteller.
Reply
:iconkawaiibao-chan:
KawaiiBao-chan Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010
Oh! I shall check it out then! :)
Reply
:iconmy-rosey-posey:
My-Rosey-Posey Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2010
This is extremly helpful! Thank you very much :).
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
No problem, and good luck!
Reply
:iconmy-rosey-posey:
My-Rosey-Posey Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2010
Thank you :).
Reply
:icontails3k:
tails3k Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2010
This leaves me with a lot to think about. I couldn't count the people who've created a fanfiction character without even thinking of some of the things on this list, myself included!
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Hehe, well I hope this helps! Characters are really important. You can't think about them too much.
Reply
:iconwindette:
Windette Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2009
Wow, thank you for writing this. It brought up things up wouldn't have thought of. :)
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks! Glad to hear it! =D
Reply
:iconroonstown:
Roonstown Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009  Student Writer
I regularly use a character of mine in what might be called a roleplay, and only recently have I realised that I no longer have control over his actions.

When your character reaches this stage, methinks it's a good indicator of when you've reached Critical Personality Levels.

Brilliant guide, as always. HOWEVER; not always do you need to figure out a character's motivations. They could just be completely simple, and THEN thrown into a situation out of thier control. Motives based on the character are much better than a character based on the motives.
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Hmm, interesting. I've never tried role playing, so I'm not exactly sure how it works. :P

That's true, but once they're thrown into said situation, then they will have the motivation to, at the very least, get out of the bad situation. Either way you do it, there's still motivation in there somewhere . . . cause that's what creates conflict! A character has a motivation and a goal that is hindered on some level and--bang!--there's a story to be told.
Reply
:iconroonstown:
Roonstown Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2009  Student Writer
I'n not sure about D&D type Roleplaying, but Casual write-by-instalments writing (Like the Mad Scientis Wars or the 910CMX Avatar tournament) really helps you out. Indeed, it's responsible for my love of writing in the first place.
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Sweet. It's like another world . . . and a time sinkhole, but hey, if it's fun, it's fun. =D
Reply
:iconroonstown:
Roonstown Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2009  Student Writer
Want a time sinkhole? Try TvTropes -.-

Once looked up from my computer to discover I'd been declared legally dead.
Reply
:iconilluminara:
illuminara Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Declared legally dead? :O
Reply
:iconroonstown:
Roonstown Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2009  Student Writer
In a metaphorical sense... >.>
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconilluminara: More from illuminara


Featured in Collections

For writing by Link-Pikachu

screws by melissaherrera

Writting Tutorials by Kouyukki


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
October 28, 2007
File Size
3.3 KB
Thumb

Stats

Views
18,464
Favourites
781 (who?)
Comments
122
×