Sometimes a character pops into my head before the actual story. There might be a small scene around the character but nothing is concrete. I don’t plan for this to happen, it just does.
So, what do I do when I have an idea of a character? For starters, I tend to know the character’s sex. I don’t know the character’s gender until way later.
Next, I think about what kind of world would this character live in? Futuristic? Fantasy? Modern day?
Once, I decide that, I look at the situation they are in. Do they struggle to pay for basic essentials? Are they on the run? Are they a gun for hire? Maybe they are a detective/ investigator.
If I can’t think of an answer, I mix and match. Would this character fit in an urban setting? Would it make sense if they were on the run? Nothing is is ever concrete at the beginning. Characters are like clay. They can be modeled as many times as they need to.
As the character takes shape, pieces tend to fall into place. A character now has a sword and a gun. The only place they drink their coffee is from a run down shop on a corner of a not so nice street. For character creation, I think it’s helpful to start with the little things.
What would their room look like? It’s a clean? Messy? Undisturbed? Do they use mouth wash? What snacks do they eat? Do they drink too much coffee? What does a normal day for them look like? What kind of clothes do they wear? Where do they buy their clothes?
There are a lot of character creating questionnaires out there and I’ve found some of them very useful. However, I don’t always need to use them. Sure it’s important to know if your character has any family, siblings, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or a pet, but I found that somethings, character creation gets bog down with those sorts of questions.
At times, it feels like a job to me and it’s no longer fun. The character just slips from my mind and it never goes anywhere. I like to mull it over a bit. Keep it a secret if you will before putting it down on paper.