Starting a new story and need a main character? Or do you need a minor character for an ongoing work? Just interested in some development practice? Here’s a fun little thing you can do.
Step One: Grab a phone book and begin flipping through the pages. Find a name that stands out to you. Use that name for your new character.
Step Two: Think about what that character looks like based on their name. Write down as many details as you can. How old is he/she? Does he/she have dimples? Red hair or brown? Is he/she tall or short? Which parent do they take after?
Step Three: What cultural/social/economic climate might this character exist in? You don’t need to pin down an exact place. Details will suffice, like whether they were rich or poor, religious or not, their race, whether or not they were raised by both parents. How did these things affect them?
Step Four: Answer a few other “get to know you” kind of questions. What’s the character’s favorite food? What is his/her greatest accomplishment? How do they behave at school or work?
Finally, try to write a short monologue in that’s character’s voice, about 100-200 words or so. Get a feel for the way they talk.
Don’t be afraid to learn something new about the character that requires some tweaking to the original plan. That’s part of the fun! I’ve been writing the same characters for years and they still surprise me.
How’d it go? How do you create new characters?