World Building – Characters

Welcome to another World Building Sunday. Thank you for joining me!

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about today but I just stumbled upon an interesting blog that talks about Character Building. When you’re building your world, your characters aren’t immediately relevant to that space, but you can certainly take inspiration from the world to help craft your character. Or you might have them in mind already and must then figure out the best way to fit them in your world.

For example, perhaps your character is as anti-belief as they come, but they were born into and live in a world that is full to the brim of actual gods and deities. It’s possible for the character to maintain their lack of belief but at what point is it delusion, denial, or something else entirely? Granted, that works best if there are actually gods and such creatures like you might find in fantasy especially. And honestly, that’s just the first example that comes to mind. There are lots of other character tidbits that could be incorporated. A pacifist in a violent or militaristic world. How does masculinity or femininity fit into your world? What if your character is androgynous or hyper-masculine / feminine? What if they don’t fit into the mold of the expected in your world? Plenty of things to consider. Do they try to change according to those rules or do they try to change the rules themselves? These can be great plot questions and character building moments for sure!

But swinging back to the idea of actually building your character, there are a couple of things you might want to keep in mind. Obviously appearance is a big one. What do they look like? Are they distinct? A Plain Jane or an Average Joe? Any natural or magical alterations? Scars? Physical disabilities?

If you’re not sure where to start, you can check out a couple character generators or sites to help give you a framework to pull from. I tend to enjoy building mine from the ground up and letting the world and their experiences help tell me who they will become as the story goes on, but maybe you like to front load a bit more. Feel free to check out sites like these for help in generating all types of characters and descriptions:

  • Quick Character Generator – a quick generator that allows you to choose your gender (male / female / intersex) and age bracket and then offers a basic physical description and historical background of said character. Pretty detailed information if you ask me.
  • Human and Humanoid Character Generators – this is a page that links to many other generators based on your needs or desires. Basic character appearance? Cool. Character profile info? Present! Ghost / Merperson / Monster Person? You can find them all here. I haven’t checked them out personally but it’s nice having a bevy of options.
  • Character Description Generator – follow this link to get a quick random description of a male or female character. It’s fairly basic but if you just want a nudge, it’s a pretty good place to start and build from.
  • Seventh Sanctum – this is another page that links to more generators based on what you’re looking for or need. They also have a couple new options I haven’t seen among the others yet like the Anthropomorphic Animal Generator and the Fantasy Crossbreed Generator. They sound quite interesting. haha

Now physical descriptions are of course important to your character. On the other hand, what are they like on the inside? What makes your character tick? Why are they driven or angry or quiet? Do they have anything that annoys them or sets them off? These might be considered even more important than their physical looks, especially when you want to set them apart from everyone else.

Looking at the blog post I happened to come across, a few things you might want to keep in mind when you’re thinking about the intrinsic qualities of your character are:

  • Pet peeves – what annoys them? Maybe there’s a story behind it or perhaps it’s something you personally don’t like that is bleeding into your character.
  • Social or shy – are they more introverted or extroverted? Does this change in any given situation? How do they act when they first meet people versus once they’ve known them for a while?
  • Representation – this one is important if you’re writing outside of your personal knowledge base, especially when incorporating other races, ethnicities, orientations, etc. If your characters aren’t like you, and even if they are, it’s probably best not to rely on stereotypes to be your guiding star…
  • Alone versus with people – this is a fascinating one to consider. How does your character act or behave when they’re by themself versus when they’re around different kinds of people? This goes beyond the introvert / extrovert thought process a bit and asks you to explore more of the inner workings of your character as an individual.
  • Hobbies – it seems like such an easy one but really, what does your character like to do when they’re not being the main in your story? When you’re thinking about how your character is supposed to save the world or the kingdom, little details like this can sometimes fall by the wayside.
  • And if you’re into fantasy like myself and the writer of the blog I pulled these points from: Powers. What powers does your character have and, more importantly, how do they use them? For good? For evil? For self-gain and power?

For more in-depth breakdowns of each one and better examples, I highly encourage you to check out Quirks and Stuff: Things to Keep in Mind While Character Building. She makes a really good point about all of them and offers good explanations to help show what she means. And really, who wouldn’t love a Vampire gang leader who is really into Dungeons and Dragons as a hobby? XD

If you want additional questions to help prompt thoughts about who your character is and why they do the things they do, I might recommend checking out: The Ultimate Character Questionnaire. It is chock full of questions to ask about your character or characters, but it can be a bit overwhelming (150+ is a lot…). Speaking from experience, you don’t have to answer all of them or even think about all of them. Maybe choose a couple from each category or use the ones that bring immediate thoughts / answers. Your character will be who you want them to be and you don’t have to know everything right at the beginning. They will likely grow and change as your story goes on. After all, most people aren’t too enthralled by a static character. At least not often. There are exceptions to everything though so who knows?

You can also check out Character Sheets and Character Creation for more links to other questionnaires and sheets that might be more to your liking. ^_^

One side note I’ll add, since I’ve leaned on it in the past, is if you’re writing fan fiction, most of the heavy lifting for character building has been done for you already. However, if you’re using the character as a framework or perhaps you’re pulling them into an alternate world or reality or an entirely new fantasy / science fiction setting, you have a lot of freedom to tweak things. Physical descriptions might still remain the same, but a lot of the internal workings can be modified accordingly. More or less / within reason.

But okay! I’ll end it here for today. I wish you lots of luck in creating or adding on or further fleshing our your characters. I might be using some of these (or at least a couple of the questions) to help differentiate some of my future characters myself. We shall see! As always though, thank you for stopping by. If you have any questions or want to add anything about your own experience with character creation, feel free to drop a line in the comments below!

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