Short of being able to properly and coherently write sentences, characters are by-far the most important aspects of your story. I’ve wrote on this to some length over the last few months and wanted to get into some specifics. This will be a post about developing characters and I’m going to do it in a way that I hope makes things fun for you the reader. How? Well, as I write, I’m going to develop a brand new character for you! (This character will be in a future short story–maybe in the next newsletter!)
Have at it!
Alright, there are “aspects” I want to consider first and you’ll just have to roll with me as I do this. I want to create a character who is distinct. What does that look like? Well, I need to decide a few things that will be both somewhat general and differential when it comes to others. (Just as a heads-up, all of these characteristics we’ll be developing are subject to change but I am going to try to keep everything the same so that when you come across the character in the short story, you will feel like you know them!)
Back to the distinctity (yeah, I know, not a word but it is fun to write and say!).
Let’s say the character’s name is Avroes Toal. That’s a random name if ever I came up with one but let’s roll with it as we move on. What will make him distinct. Let’s say he is younger but has early signs of graying hair, making him self-conscious with the ladies. One lovely lady in particular (this is a bit of a plot element so we’ll leave that alone for now). Who is this man named, Avroes? If he’s self-conscious about his hair, how else would that affect his personality? I imagine him as being a bit of an over-compensator. He looks for opportunities to prove he’s not older than he is and therefore has adopted more childish or immature ways. This also affects his relationships both personally and professionally.
How are we doing? Are you staying with me? Good! Onwards!
So, Avroes Toal is a young man (mid-twenties) who has prematurely graying hair and over-compensates this by acting out in ways to prove he is young and not old. We’ll stray away from specifics because we don’t want to get too close to plot points. Let’s also throw in some other details to round him out. He likes the outdoors and would prefer pursuing a profession that allows him to see the world (cliché a bit, I know), but let’s say he wants this because his father and grandfather were both men perfectly fine with living their lives as scholars, devoted to studying and page-turning. This is not Avroes the Gray (poor guy has a nickname he hates too!)
He’s a man looking forward and beyond the confines of a study or library, wanting nothing more than to see the world and prove he is not like his father and grandfather who have paved the way for him to have a good-paying occupation that will allow him to marry, have children and carry on the Toal legacy of ink stains and paper cuts.
Also, he hates heights and the library he would have to spend all of his days in is at the highest story of a building with many stairs and no banisters. He seizes up anytime he actually has to approach a tall staircase, afraid his footing will give way and he’ll stumble to his death. In fact, let’s say his grandfather fell and died and his father fell and lived but became crippled by the horrible circumstance (a little too tear-jerking for you? Misery is drama, ha!) and Avroes has to take care of his father. Even better dramatic tension! It’s so sweet, it drips.
There are many more (is that correct grammar?) things we can do to round out who Avroes Toal is and maybe that can be explored in the short story (guaranteed it will) but this is just to show my process for creating a character somewhat on the fly. Who are they, what do they do/want/hate/love/etc.?
Call to Action: Anything we can add? Seriously, throw out a detail! It doesn’t have to be too precise and can be a bit vague. What’s his favorite color, food, idiosyncratic ticks, bad habits, etc.? I’ll be able to add that into the short story and you’ll be able to say you had a part in it!