Creating Characters
Characters: Creating Characters
Print this page Print this page

Defining characters in terms of power

One way of defining characters is to classify them in terms of power. Once their 'power level' has been defined it is much easier to look for situations to put them in. All characters will fall into one of six categories:

  • Gods. They live separately from humans, and their powers are an intrinsic part of them. In general, we assume they can do anything.
  • Semi-gods. Often the sons and daughters of Gods. They have limited powers. Sometimes mix with humans. The essential aspect of Gods and semi-gods is that they are immortal. In fables and myths they are sometimes half god and half human, or half animal.
  • Super human. Characters that have super powers like Superman. They include witches, wizards, fairies, etc. They have special powers but are rarely all-powerful and they are mortal. Popeye and his spinach, and Aladdin and his lamp are super-humans when the situations demand. Super-humans live like humans most of the time, and have the same needs as humans.
  • Human. Characters that fall within the range of normality as we know it.
  • Sub Human. Characters with limited abilities. These could be humans that have only a small range of skills. Typically the old, young, the ill, and the disabled, in general those that cannot cope for themselves. It may also include those that are unskilled, poor, or lack power within the group they live.
  • Non-human. Animals, Robots, toys, aliens, the supernatural, and anything that can communicate with humans but isn't one. These vary considerably in their power but where they are not hostile they are mainly seen as at the bottom of the power chain.

List examples of each of the above categories.


Defining characters by their attitudes

Another way of defining characters is by their attitude. This covers dominant features of their personality, and should be clear by the actions they take. People fall into four general types of:

  • Assertive: Knowing what they want and going about life in a obvious way. In groups they are the Decision-makers and leaders. As individuals they may be artists, craftsmen, who go about their way of life with a sense of direction.
  • Aggressive: Often not clear on what they want, but imposing on others to get what they think they want.
  • Passive: May be clear on what they want but not outwardly saying so.
  • Manipulative: Often deliberately being unclear on what they want. Achieving their ends by indirect means.

A person may be all of these at different times in different circumstances. In general, people adopt a strategy for dealing with the problems of the moment. If the problem can be dealt with then the person is assertive. An assertive person is generally a good problem solver. Our heroes are usually assertive people.

People who want to solve problems but have difficulty in doing so may become aggressive. Typical indications are being short tempered, angry, argumentative, etc.

Passive people either let others solve the problems, ignore the problems, or put up with them. They are the people who can be imposed on.

Manipulative people get others to solve their problems, or get others blamed if the problems are not solved.


Give examples of each of the above categories.

People also tend to fall into the 'Fight or flight' pattern. That is they will face up to problems or try to get away from them.


Character roles and types

A typical cliché character plays a role is where the character's personality is partly dictated by the job they do. Examples are a policeman, cowboy, chorus girl, sailor, clown, nurse, taxi driver, waitress, etc. The uniform gives both the nature of the person's job and the class level of the character. There are also 'uniforms' in the style of dress. We would expect a lawyer to be smartly and soberly dressed. A rock star to be flamboyant, a biker to wear leathers, a rich woman to wear furs or high fashion, an artist to be casually dressed, etc. From that, the characters lifestyle, manner of speaking, and interests can be set out.


List two roles in each of the fields of:

The Police force - The Army - A college - An orchestra
A research laboratory - Government officials
People who visit your house officially - Shop workers


A type is a physical characteristic that is commonly used to depict certain types of people. These include the big idiot bully, the small smart hero, the beautiful young heroine, the dashing young hero, the wise old man, the sympathetic uncle/aunt, the terrible young brother, the rebellious teenager, the crazy professor, the scatty young woman, the domineering father, the charming scoundrel, etc. Once the type has been described it is easy to create situations for them.

Imagine a story that contained all the above characters. Write out a brief description of each one indicating age, physical characteristics, and mannerisms. Give enough information for a casting director to select suitable people to play these parts.

Contents Previous Page Next Page

Email: Page last updated: