Fleshing Out A Character

©amylglover

Characters. In my opinion, they’re the most important thing about a novel, even more important than plot. A character is the heart and soul of the story and that’s why it’s necessary to flesh out a real and well-rounded character that practically leaps from the page.

If your character is underdeveloped, you risk the reader never connecting with the story you are telling and that would be detrimental.

I’m going to detail a few tips I use when creating my characters. Keep in mind, these are just my thoughts. Like all things writing, you have to figure out what works for you but I hope that you find some of these helpful!

TIP ONE: Start from reality.

When building a character, I think it’s really important to start from reality. Writers often through around the idea of ‘write what you know’ when discussing plot but I think the same applies for character. If your character is grounded in reality it will be easier for readers to connect with them.

To do this, I recommend taking inspiration from people you know. Look at their quirks, their hair colour, their biggest fears. All these things that make a person.

Don’t be afraid to splice multiple people together, or even take some inspiration from strangers. This is going to give you a solid base for the character you’re creating to feel as real as possible.

TIP TWO: Vices and virtues.

This tip will help not only create your character, but build your plot. Think of what drives your character. What’s their biggest flaw and greatest virtue? What are they scared of? What do they love? Who would they kill for? All these things are crucial to know because they will drive your character through the plot. Think of how your character is at the start and how the idea of your plot can change them, or not change them at all!

TIP THREE: Character collages.

Creating a character collage is fun and super helpful. I love doing this! It helps me to really visualise what this character looks like and the aesthetic of their personality as well.

©amylglover

This collage is one I made for Archie West, a character from my novel The Witches of Belle River. For me, it captures who Archie is as a person. He’s a musician, shown through the two images of guitars and the music sheets. He hates maths (image of a notebook with the words ‘Fuck you maths!’ written across it). I also have an image of a boy, side profile, who I imagine to be Archie and the image of pizza is meant to symbolise his friendship with Oliver.

I think you can make these collages as abstract as you like, as long as they help you to understand your character. Also, don’t be scared to pick out an actor who you think could play your character! This can be super helpful as a visual description for you to refer back to as you write. Diego Boneta is the actor I have picked for Archie!

TIP FOUR: Character sheets

Character sheets are fantastic ways to start building a character. They’re also really helpful for compiling information in one place that you can continue to refer back to.

©amylglover

This is the template I use! Sadly, I can’t for the life of me find the website/creator of it but if you do a quick google search you can find hundreds of premade templates to use! Find one that works best for you.

That’s usually how I begin to create a character. There are countless other things you could do! Try drawing them, or creating a playlist of songs they would listen to. Characters drive our stories so I would encourage you to look at taking on some of these ideas.

Happy writing!

RELATED POSTS:

Character Aesthetic, The Witches of Belle River: Archie West
Character Aesthetic, The Witches of Belle River: Claire Durant
Companion Novels – Unravelling The Universe of a Story

1 Comment

  1. maryan March 16, 2019 / 4:51 pm

    Amy L, thanks for the article post.Really thank you! Great.

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