Fun ways to build characters

Even outside of the time I spend with my fingers on the keyboard, I do a lot of thinking about my characters. I’ve become the stereotypical “head in the clouds” writer who might walk right into you at the grocery store because my mind is on my stories. And most of all, on the characters who give my stories life.

The goal is to paint a vivid picture of a character.

The goal is to paint a vivid picture of a character.

I love to look at quotes and think about which ones apply to my characters. For example, I’ve got a character who would adore this Sylvia Plath quip: “I’d say go to hell, but I never want to see you again.” My anti-hero might identify with Lestat (from Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice), and simply say “Evil is a point of view.”

These quotes won’t make it into the story, but they give me a little more insight into how my characters tick. Most of the time, I find quotes like this on Pinterest.

Pinterest can be a wonderful time waster. If you’re curious how much time I’ve wasted, you can check me out here. A lot of the boards I’ve made are for my characters, pinning everything from what clothes they would wear to what their homes might look like. (It doesn’t hurt that one of my characters is a fashionista.)

Not only does this get me thinking about characters, it can help me describe things I don’t have a lot of experience with, like a party for extremely rich, spoiled high schoolers. (Thank you Gossip Girl!)

I love to daydream about my characters, or write little things about them that won’t necessarily be in the book. When I was getting a lot of dental work done, I spent a lot of time in the chair, mouth open, drooling on myself. I distracted myself from the drool and the drill by imagining what my characters would act like and feel if they went to the dentist. Turns out one of them was very afraid of needles.

My hope is that if I spend enough time with them to make them into detailed, fleshed out, interesting characters, that will come across in the writing. And that someday they’ll be as real to the reader as they are to me.


Pittura-Painting6 by Rinina25 from Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Featured image by Priwo – photo taken by de:Benutzer:Priwo, Public Domain

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