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  • Creating unique story characters is hard - this is How I did that

Creating unique story characters is hard - this is How I did that

This article was originally posted in September 2018.

When I started writing a few years back, I found myself thinking, pondering on a few questions many times, sitting in front of my computer with a blank, erased mind.

I had a few characters I wanted to create. I needed to make them stand out, be special and unique and different from all others.

For example, my main character is Pia the Pinena Fairy. She is a pre-teen fairy. I wanted her to have many adventures in my stories. I knew readers would like her, a unique, special fairy with many traits and qualities.

But there was a problem. What would she look like? What traits would she have?

Should I make Pia sassy?

Should I make her... look different?

When I first started writing, I wanted Pia to… well, stand out from all other characters. Would that mean she should be louder? Blurt out her feelings?

Make a scene where Pia loudly burps or does something to attract attention?

I didn’t know what to do. I didn't think burping or being a gossipy attention-magnet would help.

I was stuck.

After thinking it over for a while, an idea popped into my mind.

I knew myself well, in fact, better than anything else.

So I decided to base Pia off myself to get a solid start. I tried and experimented.

I started with a few traits.

Humor. Friendship. Thoughtful. Shy. I added onto the traits I took from myself. I even mixed the traits together, and came up with a better Pia. I made Pia bolder, braver, and added qualities and traits like cheer, and made Pia quick and clever so she could help her friends on their many travels and adventures. I also asked my friends for advice and looked for feedback. Finally, I finished. This was a whole new Pia, I knew readers and my friends would like.

Friends? Friends! A second idea beaned me in the head.

I have many great friends with a variety of great personalities. I could use these in my other story characters to come! I took out each of my friend’s best traits and placed them into my characters. In this way I found out my characters seemed alive and moving in the pages of my books.

I had many characters now, all with great, unique personality traits.

For example, in my book Saving Maui, I have a nice pixie character named Buttercup who always cheers up others when they’re feeling down, and a loyal and protective character named Olivia. Even more, I have  Marissa, who is a kind, shy mermaid.

After making all these characters, I felt accomplished.

My wonderful characters would each contribute to the story and join Pia and her friends on all their adventures.

I realized that I didn't make Pia from thin air. I had inspiration. My readers, my friends, and the people around me were the source of my inspiration.

So... where will your inspiration come from?

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