The Very Basics

Genre

The first step to character creation is the genre. Figure out what genre you want to write for. The type of character you'll want to create can vary according to genre, from comedy to horror and everything in between.

Archtype

Decide if you want to create a protagonist (hero) or antagonist (villain). This goes a long way toward your concept.

Details

Determine whether the character is male or female, and the approximate age. Age can show the reader minute details about your character. For example, an older, wise villain could be portrayed as an aging, lonely man. A naive, enthusiastic hero could be shown as a young teenage girl or boy.

Merits/Flaws

Make a list of likes and dislikes, and make sure the list is balanced. In other words, don't have ten dislikes to every one like or vice versa. Even the crankiest characters like something. Add to this a list of quirks, good habits, bad habits, or just things the character can't stop doing without some serious discipline or counseling. This can be as minor as biting fingernails or as serious as a drug addiction.

Motivation

Work out their fears, motivations, and biggest secrets. It creates a much more realistic character and helps to develop the character's archetype.

External Features

Work on external features such as where he/she lives, what he/she looks like and whether or not he/she has any pets, etc. Most details you choose should suggest something about the character, or the characters' history. Take mannerisms and features from people around you.

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