Friday, April 1, 2011


Currently I’m working with my UCD group at developing fictional characters. The title of the course is: Building Story People – Creating Characters, and the characters they’re creating are vital and vibrant.

We’ve looked into creating memorable characters and how to make each character distinct and different, remembering that whenever a new character is introduced the author must provide a clear impression of that character’s uniqueness. Who can forget Sherlock Holmes or Winnie-the-Poo?

One of my favourite ways of creating characters is to give them ‘tags’. Tags identify characters and set them apart. Frequently they are sensory impressions such as Harry Potter: lightening-shaped scar, glasses, messy hair. Tags should set your characters apart from each other and you don’t need many tags. Throughout your writing mention a character’s tags whenever the character appears and as the story progresses the characters will become fixed in the reader’s mind.

The most common character tag is name:

1. Create character names that sound different to each other

2. Keep names consistent. Don’t have narrator call the same character ‘bob’, robert’ and ‘Bobby’.

3. The internet is a great tool for ethnic names

To create 3-dimensional characters, think:

1. Purpose. What does your character want?
2. Method. How does your character react to a problem?
3. Evaluation. How does your character judge things, people, situations?
4. Ask yourself why the character is the way he or she is

Good luck with your creations. It is not for nothing that characters are described as the royalty of fiction.

Patricia O’R

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