I honestly don’t think I have ever asked myself this before, I have had people ask me how I came up with them and so on, but I have never really thought long and hard (shut it) about it.
So, fellow writers, let me ask you this: where do your characters come from? Or if you read books, how does your mind come up with the characters looks? Do you add any other characteristics that weren’t described or mentioned in the author’s words? Or do you base them off of how you would see them in reality based on how they act, talk, what they do and like.
As a reader myself that is a hard question to answer. Most authors do such a good job at describing, but not over describing, their characters to their audience. But no matter how much you describe in your own words readers will always distort it to how they think those attributes look on that character.
It is a cool topic because not many people think about how hard it is to come up with characters (in my opinion). I am always questioning if the character looks too perfect, acts too fake, my characters clashing together into one type of person (it’s just like a world inside my head of mini me’s), and what to name them. Naming characters just gives me anxiety (somewhat-sarcastic, although it is hard to do).
I am a perfectionist, so that is why I tend to over obsess about things that I do, which most are creative. If I worked as an accountant or something with an absolute answer then my perfectionist side would be content but my creative side? Heck no. I worked in that field for a brief time and hated it, completely. I need to always be making something new, to see new things, be able to have more responsibility, and dip into numerous different aspects of my personality to be happy in my job. That’s why I do so many things. Photography, writing, editing, resume’s, cleaning, and babysitting/nannying (two complete different things but why the hell not add them together).
We went off topic for a while there but that is another thing to think of. What do your characters do? Do they go to school? University? What kind of job do they have? In what field? Do they have siblings? If so what are their names? Are they important, or irrelevant? Who are your characters best friends? Do they have friends, and are they relevant to the story to have to add them in? Where does your character live? Is it a place on a real life map? Or a place you described and completely (based off places but distorted) made up?
How do we decide?
We have an image in our heads, most writers do. We see the world, we are in the world. We see the characters, we are those characters. We can see the characters and what they do, we do what they do.
What if we have never done things the character is going to? Research! Lots and lots of research is involved in writing, sometimes even subconsciously. We can be doing something and later writing, having that experience influences how our characters do it. If we research it, it can feel so real when we are writing it because we did that research and can make up the scene in our heads flawlessly.
Now I am not saying this is difficult for every writer out there but for most it takes some thought, if not a hell of a lot.
Readers just read and imagine. We create a world out of nothing.
Think about that.