Creating 3 Dimensional Characters: Character Creation




I love creating characters, probably because I love reading character-based stories.  My stories generally start with character, but not always.  Many things can inspire a character, a story, a picture, a quote, a piece of music, art, a movie, or just an idea spurred from something more generic.  Character ideas come from everywhere, and yes, even from the people around me.

I have learned different ways to inspire characters.  I enjoy astrology.  I have an astrology program, Capricorn Astrology Software.  I like to give my characters their own personal astrology chart, which in turns generates traits, personality ticks, strengths and weaknesses.   Maybe I want a character to have traits of particular significance, e.g. Sagittarius.  I give the character a DOB in that timeframe October 21-November 21. This actually creates a strong 3-dimensional character with ideas to build on.   You can do this on free sites.  The same sites you use for your own free astrology of the day, just by putting in pertinent information.  The DOB can be the day of creation, or one you just give them.

I also like to use the Myers-Briggs personality types and tests.   Theses types help defines behaviors, traits and what types of people respond to what, and how they might look at the world.  That helps build character.  There is a mild psychology in use here.   There are many variations of this, and I have tried different ones.  Here are a few.

Free Personality test 16 Personalities

Humanmetrics Personality types

Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Personality Pathways


Overview of Myers-Briggs

Myers-Briggs Team Technology


Keirsey Myers-Briggs

Keirsey Myers-Briggs


Wikipedia Info
Wikipedia Myers-Briggs


I also like Joseph Campbell’s archetypes of mythology for general themes with my characters.  Mythology has a whole deep psychology going on, on a larger level, that I find fascinating.  How the world affects a person, the journey everyone makes, and overall theme of facing the monsters, which can generate conflict from personality.

I will also cast my characters just as if I were creating a movie, which can add traits and personality.  It could be a famous movie star, model or anyone, but it might also be animated characters or hero type, archetype superheroes or mythology based archetype etc, or regular persons, if the picture inspires. It might be as simple as a sketch that I do myself, or the attitude of a picture I spy in a magazine or book.

Many things create the inspiration for me.  The idea is to create the most 3-dimensional character, as possible.  The idea of a character often leads to world building, which in turn generates the story. It is a lot like building a puzzle, or piecing together a map.

I also purchased and took Holly Lisle’s Create a Character Clinic, which just added to all I have already learned, and taught me new techniques, and different perspectives to consider.   Her teaching has had the strongest impact on my writing life, of all things I have done, and it is one of  the best decision I personally have ever made.   Thank you Holly.  I will continue to buy any course she creates.   I am a writer who believes you never learn enough, and you should never stop learning the craft, because it is always changing or improving.

How do you create characters and generate ideas?





photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc

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  • I like to think that my characters appear in my imagination fully formed, but it actually seems to be a more gradual process– a raised eyebrow, a saucy turn of the phrase, a trail of dropped artifacts that tells me who this person I want to write about really is. Each character comes about a little differently, but songs often help to solidify their nature, and a hunt for the perfect image can bring them into focus as well.
    I love the Character Clinic too! 🙂

    • admin

      I know when an idea appears that my Muse knows things I do not. They come to me as I start to build or need them. It is almost like the subconscious emerging as it forms itself on the paper. All these tools help me to define it even more, or inspire more. So maybe in a way they do appear fully formed, but our conscious mind must still step in the quest of revelation.

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