Day 11: How do you create your characters? Do you make a profile of them? Do you know your character before you start writing the story?
Oh, I 100% make character profiles, but I don’t type out a list of their favorite things like an old Myspace survey. The majority of the time those things don’t matter to the plot so why spend time worrying about their favorite color if it won’t affect anything. What I like to focus on is what do these people want more than anything and what are they willing to do to get it. What are their sun, moon and rising signs. What kind of families were they born into? Do they have a good relationship with their mothers? Are their fingernails clean? Those little details actually tell a lot about a person and when you write a character driven plot, those are the details that matter. Those are the things that are going to determine their decision making. Are they hasty? Do they think things through? Do they act purely on impulse?
I like to make a mixture to keep things interesting. Characters who dive into problems head first, they’ll figure out the details later. Other characters who second guess everything, worrying how their choices will affect them five years from now. One of my main conflicts within the group of main characters in my WIP, Elements, is how each of the girls wants to go about their investigations. Rayn wants the truth at whatever the cost, damn the consequences. Whitney is invested, willing to take risks but also will do anything to keep her friends safe. Lauren is absolutely terrified of the unknowns. She’s constantly worried about how their actions will come back to bite her in the ass. She follows along but drags her feet the entire way. This creates a lot of back and forth within the group. Inner conflict is just as important as external conflict and oftentimes, more personal.
More often than not, once a character is developed enough they start doing things on their own. I know that sounds kind of insane to someone who doesn’t have imaginary people living in their heads but I swear it’s a thing. I don’t have a single character that hasn’t done something or developed into someone that I wasn’t expecting. Whether it be their sexuality, their motives, their loyalties. When that does happen, I usually just go with it and let the character grow into their own. Some of my favorite things have come from characters taking over and me thinking, “Oh, is that where we’re going? Alright, let’s go.”