Writing a Story: Create a Character

Writing a Story: Create a Character

In a previous post, I discussed formulating ideas for stories. Today, we talk about character creation. Some individuals come up with their characters in the spur of the moment and simply start writing. That’s fine and dandy. Whatever works when it comes to writing a story, I say go for it. I’m not here to impede anyone’s creative process. HOWEVER, some folks might benefit from a few tools and ideas.

Character Writer 3.1

My favorite tool of all time when it comes to character creation is Character Writer 3.1. Rather than go into details, I’ll point you to my review. If you’re looking to get a really in depth look at your character(s) before you start putting your words to paper, I highly recommend this program. By the time you finish all the prompts, you’ll have a deep understanding of your character’s psyche.

Roleplaying Books

It’s time to get your geek on. If you’re story idea is high fantasy or paranormal, roleplaying books can help you define your characters ability. I offer two suggestions for those who don’t know where to start. First up, Dungeon & Dragons, also known as D&D. I’m sorry folks. I can’t continue without sharing this video first.

D&D books are great because they have just about every power imaginable. Not only that, but D&D roleplaying books are full of rules, which might even help you develop boundaries for your story.

For those with a paranormal book in mind, I suggest White Wolf books. Mages, Vampires, Werewolves, oh my! White Wolf has a collection of books, each tailored toward a particular supernatural creature. Check it out. And oh… and don’t forget the dice.

Naming Your Character

I’m a strong believer in the power of names. I was meticulous about choosing names for my children… and lovely children they are. 🙂 I don’t take quite as much care when it comes to my character names, but I do put some effort into them.

Baby Name Websites

One of the great things about many baby name websites is that many reveal the origin of a name. If your character has a particularly strong personality trait, using a search term based upon the trait may be helpful. Also, if your character comes from some place other than America the Melting Pot, a baby name website can help you choose an appropriate name based upon a region.

Name Generator Tools

I have to admit, I’m not particularly fond of name generator tools. However, if you just need a name and don’t really care what they name should be, this might be the answer. Some name generators are more elaborate than others and will allow you to define search terms such as names based upon geographic regions or even fantasy names like elven.

Generic Placeholders

Sometimes a name just won’t come, and that’s okay. Use a generic placeholder until a suitable one comes to mind. I tend to use all caps because it’s easier for me to pick them out in a story… less likely to miss occurrences. One special tip I have for placeholders is to be consistent. The big reason for consistency is the ability to find and replace quickly. For example, using a the placeholder BADASSWEREWOLF can be substituted for Derek in one big swoop.

Character Appearance

Mind’s Eye

I store my characters’ appearances in my noggin. However, I’ll be honest… my characters are pretty faceless. Most of them are lucky to have bodies. Once I log the generic characteristics, I’m good to go. Characters, scenes, etc. are all pictured in my Mind’s Eye. That works for me, but others might need more. So, I present a few resources to breathe a little more life into your characters.

Stockphotos

Stockphotos are a great place to start. Browsing through stockphotos can be rather time consuming but also a lot of fun. Once you choose the stockphoto of your character, you might even be able to use it in your cover art. I love killing two birds with one stone.

Sims

I’ve had my fair share of Sims addiction. One feature the Sims is the character creation process. In fact, one can’t play the game without creating characters to control. Perhaps that’s why I love the Sims so much… control. It’s rather similar to controlling characters in a book. 🙂 The Sims version you use will determine detailed you can make your character.

Daz 3D

You Probably know by now, I’m a lover of Daz 3D. I CANNOT get enough of it. Of all of the options (other than the Mind’s Eye), Daz 3D offers the most flexibility and the greatest ability to fine-tune. My review goes a bit deeper into Daz 3D. And by the way… it’s free.

SO! Characters can evolve throughout the storyline, so don’t feel like you’re confined to your original concept. I typically use a few of the tools above to get me started. However, I allow myself the freedom to change things at any time.

Software Review: DAZ 3D

This is actually not a piece of writing software. However, I love it. First the description according to the DAZ 3D website:

DAZ 3D – DAZ Studio is a free, feature rich 3D figure design and 3D animation tool that enables anyone to create stunning digital imagery. This is the perfect tool to design unique digital art and animation using virtual people, animals, props, vehicles, accessories, environments and more. Simply select your subject and/or setting, arrange accessories, setup lighting, and begin creating beautiful artwork. DAZ Become a 3D Artist for Free. Reviewed April 7, 2010.

I found this program while browsing deviantArt. So many awesome artist there. How I wished I could be one. Some artist did commissions. However, I read authors shouldn’t bother with buying cover art since it’s a cost the publisher takes on. I’m not a published author yet, so I can’t rely on my publisher to create cover art for my novels. I wanted my homepage to have something. So I searched for options.

Then I came upon one artist who listed the tools of her trade. DAZ 3D being one of them. Now I’m not an expert with DAZ 3D, but I’ve managed to develop some simple cover art and my headers using a combination of DAZ 3D and Photoshop Elements. Check out here and here for the cover art and my website header. All the figures (animal, creature, and human) come from DAZ 3D in addition to some of the backgrounds. Someone more artistically inclined and creative could definitely do better. For someone like me,  who’s never taken an art class in my life, I’m pretty pleased with the results.

I have to admit, it took me a bit of time to get the hang of it. I found myself moving my arms and legs around to understand exactly how the models worked. Pretty much any position a person can do, the models can also perform. Plus, each model comes with a set of predefined positions which translate to other models as well. Once the models are properly placed, DAZ allows for the picture to be rendered in a variety of different formats. Personally, I like the .png files which takes just the models, no background so I can choose to add my choice of a background later if I choose.

The DAZ website also offers a series of online tutorials, both in video and written format. Some of it was too complex for my pretty lil head, but the way its presented lets the user build upon what they know: Beginning, intermediate, advanced, and well out of my league.

Give DAZ 3D a try. DAZ Studio 3 is currently a free software, but you can upgrade it to include additional features. There is also a page for free models so you can really get the feel a for the program.