Today is the Great Blogging Experiment - Creating Compelling Characters, a blogfest created by Elana Johnson, Jennifer Daiker, and Alex J Cavanaugh. Please visit their sites for a full listing of participants.
How do I create memorable characters? I start with a character sheet. Now, I teach a characterization session in schools and there are several steps to the process. Probably the most vital are the background and the personality.
In order to appear real, characters need detailed backgrounds. They need a detailed history. How were they raised? Did learn right from wrong and develop strong morals? What was their financial situation? What about schooling? Did they have parents and siblings? What were some of the major events of their past? All of these things affect those characters today.
I’m a big believer in the personality types as outlined in Florence Littauer’s Personality Plus - choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, and melancholy. These often line up with the four birth orders as well - oldest, middle, youngest, and only. Each personality possesses its own unique strengths and weaknesses, which guides the writer. Once a character’s personality is decided, his or her reactions, behaviors, and goals become easy to determine.
Subsequent steps in the process involve appearance, hobbies, and current situation.
All of this adds depth and realism to a character. And a believable character is a compelling character!