I have to be honest with you guys – when I choose characters, I basically go through a list of characteristics until something pops out and fits the personality of my characters.
But there’s a few attributes I like to come up before my character is finalized.
- Likes – I like to think of this as hobbies. What does my character like to do in their free time? What makes them happy? Everyone has something, and I’ve actually been using this Wiki page as a source of ideas. There’s quite a few.
- Dislikes – Okay, everyone has something they hate. For me, that would be swimming. I really don’t like to swim. Maybe for my character, this can extend to a fear, a phobia, a bad experience, or a taste/flavor preference. Anything of the sorts.
- Friends – Who are they friends with? Are they all within the same age group? This will label them in one of those stereotypical friend circles you would’ve imagined in high school or college, i.e. the jocks, the nerds, the gamers, the cheerleaders, the dancers, the theatre kids, etc. (Notice how everyone is defined by their hobbies.)
- Family – They don’t have to have parents, but knowing whether or not they have siblings or still see their grandparents, this will help influence some of their family values, and whether or not they want a family of their own.
- Values – I talk to different friends of mine, and it’s interesting to hear about their varying culture/family values. One friend of mine prefers his friends over his family, and the other will put their family above all else even while they don’t like them. These are very abstract concepts, but you only need one.
- Looks – Google. Seriously, start googling people at a certain age, hair color, or feature, and copy down that picture. This will help you keep that character’s look in your head and make it easier to talk about them in your story.
- History – They should have a little bit of background that you can drop here or there, peppered throughout the story. Did anything traumatic happen? Any scarring experiences? Maybe not, but maybe they have a favorite memory.
- Flaws– To make your characters feel real, they need a flaw. Absolutely need it. I referenced this earlier here.
As Writers Write summarized, this could also be attributed into three separate categories: social, physical, and psychological aspects. But, I like to list these biography details as specifics since I actually go through my characters like this and have found out that this makes the character usually real enough in my head that I can write about them.