Damn, that’s a long-winded title, but I think it’s kind of necessary.
As I look between the two characters that will be the leading ladies of the MARKED world, I’m realizing that they’re a lot alike. Especially when my cover artist dropped a draft of my newest cover. The Diana and Evangeline look alarmingly similar.
I have a habit of writing dark-haired, white leading ladies. While I couldn’t go back and shake those two up because they’re so cemented in my mind, I am reminding myself as I move forward that not everyone is exactly the same. Not just physically, either.
You can’t have a front line of protagonists that seem like the same character, with a new skin slapped over them. It doesn’t help you sell and it doesn’t help you grow as a writer. There are several ways to go about making sure your characters are not only different, but they are their own personalities as well.
My method is a combination of character interviews and creative visualization. This process begins with drafting a series of questions with which to better get to know your characters. This includes the kind of basic information you would find on a license, silly questions, and deep introspection.
- What is your character’s full name?
- How old are they?
- What is their favorite color?
- What is their most cherished memory?
- What is their worst memory?
- What is their favorite kind of music? Bands?
- Is there any art on their walls? If so, what kind?
- What is their favorite food?
- What are their dreams?
- What are their nightmares/worst fears?
- Do they put themselves first? Or do others come before them?
- What is their favorite place to be?
- Do they have any political views? Is that important?
- What do they like to wear?
- How do they sound when they talk? Smart? Arrogant? Meek?
- What do they want?
- What are their secrets?
If you think of anything else that seems pertinent to ask go ahead and add it. Once this questionnaire is filled out, try to visualize the person you have created. Imagine them sitting beside you in the movie theater or at your dinner table. Yeah, it’s weird, but it has helped me fully realize not only Diana and Evangeline, but the protagonist of my YA project.
Putting them all in the same room also helped to show me their differences. Diana scowls and is a bit of a grump while Evangeline tried to enjoy her surroundings. My YA character did acrobatics in the chair. By figuring out who my characters are inside and out, I’ve managed to create three separate personalities that would all act differently in the same situation.
Another method to creating unique characters is to turn toward Myers Briggs personality types. The different personality traits can be rearranged to create unique and fleshed out people for your story. The traits are divided in several ways, shown here for your characters.
- Where your character focuses their attention – Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)
- The way your character takes in information – Sensing (S) or INtuition (N)
- How your character makes decisions – Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
- How your character deals with the world – Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)
They can be divided by: ISTJ, ISFJ, INFJ, INTJ, ISTP, ISFP, INFP, INTP, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, and ENTJ. By crafting these aspects of your character’s personalities you will learn how they will react in according to the situations presented in your plot. Your character will have several facets to them, as well. Mixing four personality traits keeps your character from feeling flat on the page.
Visit the Meyers Briggs website for more information.
Use a combination of these techniques to craft the cast for your story. Once you apply any of these techniques to your characters they will begin to feel like real people with real desires and flaws. They will interact on the page in different ways and lead you to places you didn’t expect.