On Creating Characters

By Katie Minelli

One of my favorite parts of writing fiction is character creation. Despite this, it isn’t always easy to create fully formed characters. Here are a couple methods I and other writers use to fully understand our characters. 

First, I’d like to introduce a method my friend Zoe told me she enjoys: finding a Zodiac sign for her characters. Zodiac signs can get really detailed in terms of personality, habits, and flaws, so they can be a great tool for ‘discovering’ many facets of your character. You also get a specific window of time for a birthday as a bonus. 

If Zodiac signs aren’t your thing, there’s other methods you could employ. Something I really like to do is ask myself questions that would enable me to learn more about my character that have nothing to do with the story surrounding them.  

What’s their favorite color?  

What’s their favorite food?  

What does their everyday diet look like?  

What’s their favorite hobby?  

If they drink, what’s their favorite alcohol/cocktail? 

What’s their favorite outfit look like? 

Questions like these may seem pointless, but they will help you develop a full-fledged personality, and the answers to these questions might lead you to some information that directly impacts the story. 

A fellow 30 Norther, Hannah, told me about something they like to do after figuring out their personalities. They create Pinterest boards designed for specific characters. “I like to get a sense of their aesthetic and have a collection of pictures of who they are because I am a visual person. Plus, it’s fun and makes it seem like they are a real person,” Hannah said. 

Another thing you could do is write little snippets of your character interacting with a person or archetype not from your story. Don’t overthink it; just write what comes to you. If your character’s actions and reactions in the scenario feel right, then voila! Actions speak louder than words, so this is a great way to discover how your character feels about things and their temperament. 

There’s more than one way to develop a character, so don’t be afraid to try new things. You might even find some of your own ways to ‘discover’ your characters. Above all things, remember to have fun and find ways to enjoy the process. 

-30 N staff


Author: 30 North

30 North is a national undergraduate literary journal. We accept submissions of previously unpublished poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction, as well as photos, digital art, drawings, and paintings. We also publish a variety of web content including interviews with authors and poets and reviews of contemporary literary works.

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