Characters are the biggest thing you need to make when writing. Sure, plot is important, and so is world building, but knowing your characters inside and out is a crucial step in creating believable, lovable stories that will stand the test of time or whatever.
Lemme share with you something that I have learned recently:
Don’t immediately dissect and take your characters under a microscope when you’re first starting a new project.
Seriously, that initial blank slide is super highly intimidating. Like, you KNOW there should be bits of DNA and other forensic evidence on this slide and you feel like you KNOW what it is, but that immediate blank slide is scary. It’s like the bad report card you wanna hide from your parents.
Your characters need motivation, and life and a past, but don’t start with the tiniest details that you need to see under your microscope. The fact that Jane Doe’s favourite pizza topping is anchovies because it reminds her of the fishing village where she grew up is fine and dandy, but if it’s not relevant to the story, why would you fill that detail in right away?
And John Doe? His lack of a right nipple due to torture by sandblaster explains why he avoids any place where there’s sand and why going to the hardware store reduces him to a crying mess, but he’s currently locked in a laboratory being tested on for biochemical warfare, his missing nipple doesn’t really play into the story right now.
Start with the basics: Hair and eye colour, age, skin tone, height, weight. Then move on to the next things you need to fill in. Job, family, pets, style of dress.
And so on. I find that RPG character creation sheets give you the best baseline for figuring out what’s important. (D&D finally has a practical use, mom!)
And creating believable chracters takes time, but watch out for that dissection and microscope. When you take your characters apart, be sure you have your facts in order and don’t jump right into it with both feet. It’s an organic process. Your story will help build your characters as you go. Just remember to figure out what’s important, and fill in the little microscopic details when they become necessary or relevant.
Oh, and maybe have a dossier handy, keeping your facts straight is more important.
What kind of microscopic details have you added to your characters?