With the Original Character Contest II still ongoing, I started thinking about how to make interesting characters. So I’ve decided to share with you one method I use to brainstorm new ones.
First thing I do is grab an index card. Then, I think of a single word that describes some archetype of character. It could be a fantasy “class” like warrior, or mage. Or it could be a group of people, say “nerd” or “jock”. Or if you are a complete weeb, you could even write anime personality types like “tsundere” or “yandere”.
Write that word at the top of the index card. I’m just going to go with “Warrior”
Next up, I’m going to take three lines, and in those three lines I’m going to put three things about his personality that are things that you would expect from the keyword (in this case warrior). The point here is to go “Ok, so what does a “warrior” mean?”.
So I think it over, and I add my three lines:
- Will never back down from a fight.
- Incredibly serious.
- Very tactical thinker
Now that we’ve come up with 3 traits that support the archetype word, it’s time to make the character a little less stereotypical. Take one line, and describe something about the character that is very different than you would expect.
For my warrior I’m going to go with “Can’t do magic, but still knows a whole lot about the arcane.”
Now I come up with two more things. One is the characters goal, the other is their downfall.
For the goal, I try to think of what the character wants out of life. What would make them happy. This doesn’t have to be something they even know would make them happy. Just where they would need to be in life to be satisfied.
For our example warrior I’m going to put: “Become a renowned General.”
Next up, we have the downfall. This is some trait the character has that gets them in trouble. It doesn’t have to be a negative trait, just a trait that will often cause problems for them.
I’m going to go with “Overworks themself.”
Now I have a good bit of information. It’s time to take that brainstorming, and turn it into a character. The key is to take what we’ve “learned” about the character and put the context and background to it that makes those traits make sense.
For instance, with this character, we could make them an orphan that originally was adopted into a magic school, but they had zero aptitude. They couldn’t actually cast anything. They understood it intellectually, but just couldn’t make a spark happen. Failing out of the school, they fell into depression. Until they met one of the King’s knights, who took them under his wing, and taught them sword and tactics.
They took this as an opportunity to succeed, and they were never going to fail again. That is why they studied everything as hard as they could. Weapons. Tactics. They even continued studying magic, because the better they understood it, the better they could implement their allies into his strategies. And that seriousness carried into their adult life.
That could be an interesting character. And the whole thing was designed while I was writing this article. Hopefully this brainstorming method helps YOU create an interesting character.
How do you brainstorm and create your characters?