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How to start creating characters

Creating characters is often one of the first steps of planning a novel. These characters could be close to our heart, inspired by real people, or a brainchild of our hyperactive imagination.

Wherever they come from, all characters need to be given the same love and attention in your book if you want to avoid cliches.

So, here are the first things you should do when coming up with characters:

  1. Write a list of your characters.

    1. You can have two types of characters: Major and Minor characters.
    2. Start with around 3 major characters that you will develop deeply. Click here for our article on character development.
    3. Create 3-5 minor characters, but remember, the best novels extend character development to minor characters too. So, if you are aiming to write a shorter novel in less time, less might be more here.
  2. Create a biodata for each character.

    • We have created a questionnaire to help you with this step in character creation. Click this link to download it, and then make a copy to edit it. Create your own questionnaire for all main characters.
  3. Create their purpose.

    • Why are they here? What purpose do they serve in the novel? Think about what effect they have on the plot, do they cause conflict or resolve it? Or do they do both? Ensure each character has a purpose, no matter how small. This will help you identify how to develop them in the future.
    • Add this purpose to the biodata created in the first step.
  4. Research, research, research…

    • If your character is different to you in ANY way, you have to research that difference. And seeing as you can never be a complete replica of another, you will inevitably have to research your characters. Where do they live? What are the strange customs there? Maybe they are a different race, gender or age to you. Research the daily lives of people like your character, what are their struggles? These could be as small as not having time to grab breakfast before work, to more deep rooted struggles faced by them due to their gender or race.
    • Add your findings to the biodata created in the first step.

After these essential details of your character are drawn out, you want to think of step 2: How to give your characters depth and dimensions. Click here for our article on how to do this! How to create multidimensional characters with depth

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