How to Create a Fictional Character: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

Table of contents:

How to Create a Fictional Character: 13 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Create a Fictional Character: 13 Steps (with Pictures)

One thing that every book, play, movie, novel, and game have in common is that they all have at least one character. Most have two or more, and some have thousands. Sometimes the "character" is you.

No matter who the character is, the books and movies, and the rest of life would be boring without them. This guide will give you the basics and help you learn how to create your own character.


Method 1 of 1: Create Your Own Fictional Character

Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 1
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 1

Step 1. Define the main scene or setting

Whether you are writing on paper or on the computer, the characters must exist somewhere, even if it is a virtual platform. It can be an apartment in Paris or a parking lot in Poughkeepsie. This not only sets the stage for the character, it defines him as well.

Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 2
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 2

Step 2. Define your needs as the journalist seeks information:

Where, who, what, when and how …

Education, school, occupation, workplace, purpose, Conflicts, dilemmas, opportunities, options or actions (benefits and consequences), Health, sexuality, mentality, stages of life, danger, triumphs or losses, growth or decline, death … If you are about to create a character, there is a chance that you have the plot or story in mind.

  • If you are going to create a great narrative like "The Lord of the Rings", you will need to create a whole world of characters; some good, some bad, some men, other women … even some who are nothing like that.
  • If you are creating a more intimate story, you may not need to create more than one character.
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 3
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 3

Step 3. Think creatively

Unlike the first thing that comes to mind when you think of "character", not all characters are animated. Using the novel "Lord of the Rings" as an example, the mountain of Caradhras functions as a character, full of malice. In Hemmingway's "The Old Man and the Sea," a marlin is one of the main characters.

Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 4
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 4

Step 4. Start with a pattern

The character you need depends on the story, of course, but starting with a broader criteria can help you make decisions that will gradually define your character, much the way a sculptor removes all the excess marble to reveal the buried statue. inside him. A pattern includes a culture and individual traits (common or heroic, tyrant, superhero, or ogre).

  • You probably want to have a protagonist (hero) or an antagonist (villain). Maybe you need a supporting character like a henchman, a best friend, a romantic interest, a sidekick, etc. Keep in mind that sometimes what you think is the protagonist (the good guy) is sometimes painted as the antagonist. For example Long in "King Kong".
  • Maybe you need antiheroes like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider, villains you can sympathize with like Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men, wacky characters like Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, and a femme fatale (an irresistible woman who leads her man to life). greatness, hardship, danger, or disaster) as Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, a treacherous friend like Iago in Othello or perhaps a scam guide like Smeagal in The Lord of the Rings. All of these begin as archetypes and their characters are defined as the story unfolds.
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 5
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 5

Step 5. Add specific features

Once you have the character archetypes and can add details and characteristics to it, remove the things that are not unique to your character and begin to reveal it. Ask yourself what it is you want your audience to feel about your character: love, pity, revulsion, compassion, or nothing. Start creating your character based on that.

  • Determine if you want your character to be male or female. This will inform the general point of view of the character, suggest traits depending on the archetype, and can even be a point of conflict for your character and the story when viewed through the eyes of society, fair or not. For example, an arrogant man is perceived differently than an arrogant woman (both define your character).
  • Age is the factor. The older ones are generally seen as wiser. A young villain is seen as either a madman or a bad seed. An old villain can be all of that or it could be that he was formed that way due to life circumstances, giving him more depth. A young, idealistic hero provokes a different feeling than a veteran who has seen the world and only does the right thing. And when any of them reach the end of the story, the reactions are also different
  • Sometimes this can be contradictory. For example, Don Quixote was a mad old man who spent his life reading chivalric novels and was naive. Even so, his naivety drove him to seek adventure and love, and to create fantastic scenarios of a world that did not really meet his expectations.
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 6
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 6

Step 6. Define the purpose or goal of your character

In a horror tale, the protagonist must survive at all costs (for example, Ripley in Alien). In a romantic tale, the antagonist will want to prevent the hero from getting his true love (for example, Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Who Wanted to Dream), etc.

The way your characters deal with the inevitable and their goals define them. In complex stories, these will repeatedly intersect, with the motivations and achievements of other characters getting in their way, thus generating more twists in the plot

Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 7
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 7

Step 7. Give it attitude

To really bring a character to life, you have to give him a personality that goes further than the story itself. Some parts of their personality can be created in the story, directly, but they will help you inform the decisions that the characters have to make.

  • Make a list of what they like and what they don't like, and make sure the list is balanced. In other words, don't write down 10 things they don't like for each one they do, or vice versa. Even the most apathetic character has something to like.
  • A character's attitude is made up of complementary traits, which lead to actions that are unexpected and could change the audience's perception of them. For example, the character who loves freedom might hate authority. If you love having sports cars and expensive things, then you are unlikely to respect frugality. If the character seems ruthless but ends up rescuing a child from a burning building, that will force the audience to think about that character again.
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 8
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 8

Step 8. Give your character quirks

Give him good habits, bad habits, or things the character can't stop doing without serious discipline or a counselor. This can be something minor, from nail biting (nervousness), excessive combing (vanity or insecurity); or something serious like a drug addiction, or a death wish.

The more traits you give your character, the more "real" it will be in the public mind

Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 9
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 9

Step 9. Give your character a home with a mirror

Work on external characteristics, such as where you live, what you look like, and whether or not you have pets, etc.

Your character lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (a lot of money) or lives in a little house with the paint falling off (poor). Most of the details should suggest something about the character and his or her story

Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 10
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 10

Step 10. Find out their fears, weaknesses, motivations and secrets

It gives a more realistic air and helps to develop the archetype of the character. Heroes' strengths or weaknesses have a lot to do with loyalty or disloyalty.

Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 11
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 11

Step 11. Observe the mannerisms and features of the people around you

Observe people in the mall or subway. You'll be able to find character hints everywhere.

  • Observe their physical features: the shape of their nose, jaw, ears, their bodies, how they dress, how they move, etc.
  • If you like the way it looks, describe the details that you find appealing and translate it into your characters. If you see someone who looks scary, honestly ask yourself why they scare you, even if the reason is irrational or politically incorrect. Use this information to inform your characters.
  • Create people who match these traits and don't base a whole character on one or two people because if they find out, you could get into trouble.
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 12
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 12

Step 12. Associate the symbolic archetypes

Combine the traits of your characters with the perception of objects to define it, this can also be useful to foreshadow actions. For instance:

  • A rose sprouts briefly, but people adore it.
  • A snake is volatile and can attack without warning.
  • Stone buildings are solid and resistant to change.
  • The storms are violent, but an omen that change is coming.
  • A sharp sword is a danger even in the hand of the one who uses it.
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 13
Create a Fictional Character from Scratch Step 13

Step 13. Play with your character

First of all, make a mental map of everything that has been talked about and the things you want to decide about your character. Get a tape recorder and interview yourself, or better yet, ask a friend to interview you as you describe the character. Then write that down and fill in your mind map to discover other things and develop your personality. If you make a mistake in recording, just remember that you can always get multiple possibilities from a single idea.

Feel your character, put yourself in his shoes. Sometimes the best character is created from your own ideals, character, flaws and strengths, and those of your friends or family members


  • You can also take stereotypes and change them.

    Example: an old librarian who acts very strict because she thinks that is the way it should be. She is actually a person who loves puppies and snow, and she is the kind of person you say “Grandma” to even though you are not related to her

  • The type of character you create will determine the arc of your story. If the main character is aligned with the environment, the arc will begin to get shallow, and the character will begin to blend in with his surroundings and other characters. If it is diametrically opposite, a dramatic conflict will develop early on and you will have to work from there.
  • While you don't need to work through these steps in a precise order, you may find it much easier to develop a character's personality before you know what he or she looks like.
  • One way to decide where to go with what a character is experiencing is to write down alternate ideas to see which one develops into a plot that you prefer.
  • If you are creating a character that is animal (say a cat), do the same as you would for a human character. Describe what he looks like, what he likes, and what he doesn't. Here's an example: “The little black cat, Sombra, is hovering around a girl named Cristina. Sombra, a male cat, has bright greenish-yellow eyes and long, silky black fur, with white 'socks' and a white-tipped tail. "
  • Remember: this process is for more realistic characters. If necessary, add or remove steps to create your character.
  • It's okay to start with a simple character and build on more complex details. You don't need to create an extremely complex character from scratch. In fact, gradually revealing more about a character will help keep the reader interested.
  • If you have trouble coming up with other characters, use stereotypes and exaggerate them.

    Example: an old librarian got angry when her husband abused her. She constantly lives in fear that one day he will find her

  • Remember: don't say everything about your character from the beginning. Unless it's not like him to keep a secret, make it a little mysterious. Give your readers something to read between the lines. Just be careful not to make it too mysterious.
  • When people tell interesting stories, listen to them! Fiction or not. Who knows? You can get a perfect character of your neighbor's daughter who killed her abusive husband.


Popular by topic