How to create characters for a novel (Creating Great Characters)


Have you got an amazing plot for the best
story, set in a fantastical world, but you have no idea how to write a good character,
or develop a good character, that can run around in that world and mess around with
it? In this video I’ll be covering the steps
I use when creating my characters to be the best thing that they can. For more fantasy writing advice subscribe
to me, hit the bell to get your notifications, and I’ll be releasing new videos every Friday. How do you design a character for your book? In my video I’ll be going through the steps
I take to go from zero to hero when creating my characters. (It could also be zero to villain but that
doesn’t sound nearly as good does it?) So, step one, what is your character’s primary
goal and motivation? So, when you’re coming up with a character
it’s not about what they look like, it’s all about who they are and a defined part
of who we are is what we want. What we want to be. What we want to do with our lives. For me I want to write my books, I want to
publish them, and I want to share my stories with the world. That is a defining part of who I am, and my
characters are completely the same, they are no different to me except in what their goals
are. For example, my protagonist in my current
work in progress. His goal is to get revenge on the King who
exiled him, and obviously I don’t want to give too many spoilers away, but his goal
is very much intrinsic to who he is, how he behaves, and why he behaves in that way. It’s all about getting to that point where
he can get revenge, figuring out a way of doing it and for me, I find that a character
with a good, clear set of goals is one of the most interesting to read about. Villains can be just as important with having
goals. In fact, possibly even more important sometimes
depending on how your story works. You could have a story that really needs a
villain’s goal. It’s all driven by the villain and what
they’re trying to achieve. For example, Voldemort. He wants to eradicate the muggleborns from
the wizarding society and that’s the driving force behind why he’s the bad guy and why
people need to stop him. So, step number two is intrinsically linked. In fact, all of the steps are. Why does your character want to achieve their
goal and how are they going to go about doing it? So, this is very much looking into a little
bit more of your characters background. Why do they want to go and do this? So, for me, I said my goal in life was to
write stories and share them with the world and I’d say possibly it’s to do with the
fact that when I was little, I read so much. I loved to read stories and I had, and I still
do have an over active imagination. I was constantly day dreaming about fantasy
worlds I’d come up with or a story, you know, when I was very young, I wrote comic
books about my favourite teddy bear and his superhero alternate identity, and I’ve always
loved the idea of sharing these stories with people. I remember the joy I felt reading Harry Potter,
the Hobbit, reading all my favourite authors as a child and I’ve always wanted to spread
that joy, give other people the joy and see the world’s I’ve created, the characters
I’ve made. Again, your characters need to have reasons
why they want to do these. They need to have reasons why did they develop
in a way that that’s what they want. So, why does Voldemort, as we’ve already
spoken about him, want what he wants and how is he going to achieve it? So, it’s talked about in the story. He was an orphan, he was abandoned as a child
and because he was conceived under a love potion, he can’t feel love. So, he can’t feel love, he was abandoned
as a child, and he felt bitter. He just felt very bitter and angry so when
he joined the wizarding world, he thought he was special. He thought he was special, he learnt that
he was descended from Slytherin himself, the greatest of purebloods. He was probably affected by others, his peers
at the time who said that purebloods are the best and he probably took that on and said
“Well I’m descended from the greatest pureblood, and I now want to get rid of all
these muggleborns. They’re not right. Only I should have these powers.” Or only the people like him. That’s often the mindset. Only people like me are special. Voldemort only wants people who are pureblood
to be special and that’s why he wants it. And how is he going to achieve it? Well he’s going to form an evil army, he’s
going to take over the ministry of magic, and he’s going to slowly round them up and
kill them, or imprison them, and he’s not going to give any new muggleborns wands. So that’s his goals. That’s why he wants them. How he’s going to achieve them. Comment below, let me know what are your characters
goals? How is he- how is he/she going to go and get
their goals, and why do they want them? So, now we’ve talked about what your characters
goal is, step number three is all about why the choose the method of achieving their goal
as opposed to a different one. Why do they choose these methods? And for that, I’m not going to talk about
Voldemort, I’m going to talk about Gandalf. So, in the Lord of the Rings, Gandalf’s
ultimate goal is to defeat Sauron. So, they need to destroy the ring, it’s
the only way they can. So why doesn’t he do it himself? He is an incredibly powerful being, he is
essentially a demi-god, so why isn’t- demi-god or an angel, however you want to describe
it, and he’s on Middle Earth, he’s so powerful, why doesn’t he take the ring? Why does he give it to Frodo? Now at this point you can start developing
him, well actually it’s mentioned that he’s tempted by power and if he were to take this
ring, he would become evil and the ring would have even more power in his hands than it could
in Frodo’s for Gandalf is a much more powerful being. So Gandalf finding himself to be easily susceptible
to the ring, he decides not to take it himself because he knows he will cause far more damage. That’s a really good way of developing your
characters, you know, developing characters is all about why. You just have to ask yourself why? Why do they do this? Why do they do that. So yeah just why do they choose the methods
that they do? So now that we’ve chosen why they do what
they do and how they do it, let’s take a look at what are their strengths and what
are their weaknesses? Because this isn’t just “Oh, he’s really
good with a gun and he’s really susceptible to taking an arrow to the knee. It’s all about their personality. So, again, Gandalf. He’s kind, he’s caring. He can be very stubborn, and clever and witty. As with the ring he’s susceptible and tempted
by power and that is a really good weakness for him as because that’s why he can’t
use the ring and that’s why it becomes such a good story. He has to do the best he can to help and the
others as opposed to doing it himself. I believe that this method is needed for both
the main character, the main villain, and many of the side characters as well. You don’t want to just create one good character
and ignore the rest. You need all of them to be just as good. So take a look at what is your character’s
defining traits, and well, maybe their really strong willed, maybe their incredibly- when
they set their mind to something they will do it. But what if their perception is slightly skewed? Okay their really strong willed, and when
they set their mind to something they do it, maybe sometimes that’s really good, but
what if they set their mind to something that not everyone else thinks is good. A character with good strengths and good weaknesses
with a good balance is fantastic and you’ve got to remember that it’s got to weave into
the story. Your character’s weakness has to affect the direct
outcome and it has to counteract their strength at times. Step number five. What are their relationships like with the
people around them? Their families, their friends, their acquaintances,
their romantic interests. Are they a loner? Are they a social butterfly? Start looking at how they feel about their
family members, why they feel that way. Again, we’re going back to that important
question, why are they like this? This is all about building their back-story,
so you understand why they behave the way they do in your book. Maybe your characters, when they meet new
people, they’re really friendly but they don’t trust them. Maybe they’ll be the friendliest, kindest,
chattiest person around, but they’re not going to trust these people for years. Why is that? Maybe they were scorned by someone who they
trusted too easily, too readily, and suddenly they were betrayed. So it’s all about knowing who they are. How they interact with people. That’s what you’re here to develop. So, finally, point number six. This is where you finally start looking at
what your character looks like. As you’ve gone through the other steps , you should have realised that a back story’s starting to form, a personality is definitely there. Your character is going to start having a
reason why they do things, and you want to be using this to create their looks. For example, my protagonist, he’s fairly
paranoid, he doesn’t trust people easily, he pretty much always wears his armour. And he spends a lot of his time out in the
wilds, so it’s quite dirty. I’m not just creating an appearance and
trying to build around that, I’m building an appearance based on my character. As he’s an exile he doesn’t want to stand
out too much, he just wants to be a scruffy looking, travel worn adventurer or wanderer
sort of thing as opposed to the exile that he is. And he doesn’t want to reveal who he is
too easily. If you want advice on describing characters,
I will be making a video on that topic at some point in the future. If you are in the future, I will have linked
it in the cards and in the description below. Otherwise just keep your eye out, it’ll
be here at some point. So, there you have it. You’ve got a pretty well formulated character. Go and put them into your world, let them
run around and cause havoc and generally just break your story because I find that’s what
my characters like to do. They don’t do what I plan… well I don’t
really plan that much. If you’ve liked this video, go ahead, check
out my Facebook page, my website, I’m in a Writer’s group which I’ll put a link
to in the description and give me a like, comment, subscribe. Tell me what you think of the video, tell
me about your main characters, and I shall see you, next week. Let’s look at someone else. Say… [Insert favourite curse] I can’t think of anyone. How have I read so many books and can’t
think of anyone? So look at how people deal with others is
a great way of getting an insight into who they are and what their experienceseseses
is… pretty sure I said too many “S’s” there.

4 thoughts on “How to create characters for a novel (Creating Great Characters)

  1. Love these videos!
    In one of my (What do you call them? Novels that are being written as a hobby since being an Author doesn't pay the bills yet? XD), my main character's main goal is to get home (Long story short, he's now in another world), and while he does want to do the right thing of stopping evil and helping good, if there is ever anything that leads him closer to getting home, he will risk everything for it. Only habit I have created for him thus far is that he "spaces out into deeper thought" whenever a conversation bores him.

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