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

Qualifications for a job

You can never do too much work on character development. You can use cliché characters as a starting point for developing you own ideas of personality. Take each element of the character and write it down. These include dress, speech, mannerisms, posture/gestures, identifying props, class, rank, etc.

Here are some aspects you should ask about your character:

Education - Accent - Attitudes - Intelligence - Experiences - Talent
Hopes - Fears - Ability to communicate - Initiative - Relationships
Roles with different groups - Rank - Social inclinations
How seen by himself and by others - Financial status - Job - Ambitions
Age - Horoscope - superstitions - phobias - Habits - Quirks - Food - Pets
Mental blocks - Type of boy/girl friend - Hang-ups - Fantasies


Describe yourself and someone you know well using the above list.


If you can describe these things about your characters then you really know them, and shouldn't have much trouble in sorting out a storyline to suit them. If you don't know your characters, then you will NEVER come up with a convincing story.

Imagine you are Sherlock Holmes and have to find out about someone simply by looking at them. What they wear, how they wear it, what they carry, how they act, their manner, etc. These are all pointers to the person's character. When you create a character you need to present them in a way that will allow the viewer to instantly pick up the points you want them to pick up.


Pick three pictures of people at random in a magazine and list three items that give you information about them.


Some stories are based on the juxtaposition of the person and the job they are in. The moral spy, the crooked policeman, the innocent stripper, the reformed gunman. In this case the nature of the job implies certain attitudes that are not evident in the character. In many fairy tales there are examples of a wicked stepmother, wicked kings, wicked uncles, and the like. All people who by their position are assumed to play protective roles yet abuse this position. There is also the 'traitor' who acts a dual role. Then there are bad people who realise the error of their ways and try to make up for it. The inner conflict is a good dramatic device.

It is quite common to have the 'false friend' as in Pinocchio (actors who lead him astray), Red Riding Hood (wolf who is trying to trick her), Snow White (friendly witch giving her the poisoned apple).

Certain characters can be used in a range of 'role' type jobs. John Wayne made a good military man, leader, cowboy, and the like. He was the strong rugged 'action' type who seemed to epitomise the heroic image. In these cases the actors simply play themselves in the sort of roles that suits their image. In animated cartoons we see bulldogs playing bully type roles. Foxes and wolves play sly charming scoundrels. Mice are smart and Owls are always wise, etc. The physical image of the character carries through to the role, which then is reinforced with a uniform or manner. Try putting your characters in different roles to see how well they transfer.


Briefly describe the roles of good or bad you would assign to the following animals:

Whale - Shark - Octopus - Wolf - Dog - Fox - Hyena - Cat
Lion - Grasshopper - Spider - Mouse - Rat


Defining characters by their transport

James Bond would not be James Bond without the exotic cars and other transport he has. In fact the cars, planes, and boats are an extension of his personality in that he uses them as weapons, attractions, and probably as therapy.

Superman and all his clones rarely need cars, their in-built transport systems get them anywhere, though Batman with his Batmobile is an exception. Space characters use a range of go-anywhere vehicles, while Sherlock Holmes travels jumping on the backs of Hansom cabs.

Time machines, magic carpets, seven league boots, and fairy dust, get other characters around. Horses suit cowboys and Highwaymen, while Tarzan always had a handy vine to swing on. In some cases the transport is an essential part of the story, in others it is simply a means to an end. It adds strength to a character to have a preferred form of transport.


List well-known characters that travel by:

Ship/submarine - Car - Wings
Magic (carpets, fairy dust, magic capes etc) - Boots
High technology - Plane - Rocket

Contents Previous Page Next Page

Email: Page last updated: