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Lee Pletzers

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Character creation
by Lee Pletzers   
Rated "R" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, August 01, 2008
Posted: Friday, August 01, 2008

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building a character

Character creation




When writing a character do you ...

A)      base one of them on yourself (good or bad)?

I’ve heard a few authors do this. They look at their good points and bad and add them to make a character. I think this is mainly a trait of new authors - but don’t quote me on that.

B)      base them on people you know.

Many authors do this as well. Some even run contests to use your name in their book. The best thing about basing characters on people you know is that, well, you know them, you know how they will react to a certain situation. Just change their name and appearance and boom, there’s a character.

C)      base them on a certain emotion.

If you can think of a character in the basic sense (just an object at first) and consider their jobs, lives etc, you can find an emotion to associate with them. Emotions are direct links, which most people can and will relate to. More on this is described below.

D)     something completely different?


E) No fucking idea, they just pop in and say, "Here I am".



When I write a character or introduce a new one, I know exactly, what they are like before I decide on a name.

I choose “E”.

In my current project, 2 cops just popped in. I was taking a smoke break at the café while transcribing handwritten notes into scenes when this happened:


In my head I saw a young guy with two chicks try to get into a nightclub, but he couldn't get in due to it be a costume night, so he flashed his badge, one of the chicks did the same and the doorman had to let them in. The guy said, "Being a cop has its advantages."


I saw what he looked like, and the other police officer, the second chick was no longer around. I knew where to put this scene and how to introduce them earlier in the book.

I won't use the above in the book, this I know but they will be at the bar and they will help the main character without knowing it until later.


From the image above I got the basic "tone" of the character. By "tone" I mean the type of person he is. A cop who loves the advantages and disadvantages of his line of work.  A basically nice guy but often suspicious at things which seem a little out-of-place.


This is how most of my characters and books come into existence.


I have come across a few “how to create characters” sites on the net. They all say roughly the same things: Name, age, height, appearance, discerning feature, Favorite things they like to do, and the lest favorite. Their habits, background (some what full details, others only the stuff that can be related to how they perform in the story). More stuff asked for is family, attitude, personality, traits and what they think about themselves. And don’t forget the interrelation with others.


Wow, that’s a lot to think about and a lot to write, and let’s face it, not everything will be included in the story. That’s just the way it is.


Another way I heard was to associate 3 words to instantly have a character. An example would be; Friendly, loving, domineering. What kind of person comes to mind? What’s their job? Nick name? >>> Friendly Jack, loves his wife, loves his new position and pay rise at R&R Laborers. His wife is beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous in his eyes and he mentions her at every opportunity. Every man wants her, Friendly Jack is sure of this. To curd the advances of arduous men, he decides what his wife will wear to work, to meet her friends and what’s in her closet. He controls all aspects of social gatherings as much as he can. He controls his wife and she resents this, but to the rest of the world, he is Friendly Jack with the new position and new salary.


With three words, I just created a sleaze-bucket, who is friendly and loving to the rest of the world. This is only a very loose overview of a character and more of the personality will be revealed in the action of the story. This could come under “C” of the choices at the start of this article.


Every author has his or her own way of creating characters.

I use what works best for me and that is usually “E”, maybe 2 or 3 or all of the above will work for you?


Only one way to find out ……. WRITE THAT BOOK!




Web Site: Masters of Horror Writing

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