Unrelated to names, but related to writing.

[name]How[/name] do you form and develop your characters? I normally take bits and pieces from people I know, but that method feels a bit…amateur.

[name]How[/name] do you writers add quirks and bring your characters to life?

Like you, I take bites and pieces from people I know. It is usally just a trait or habit they have. I work with a girl who is always late for work. So I’ll use that on a character. I use traits from characters I see on t.v. too. I tend to jump all over the place when I develop characters. Sometimes I come across a cool name and build the character around that name. Often I come across a photo of an actor or actress online and I build the character around the photo. I find it’s easier to build the character if I can put a face to them. [name]Just[/name] because your character looks like [name]Tom[/name] [name]Cruise[/name] (for example) doesn’t mean you’re giving your character all of [name]Tom[/name]'s personality or basing your character off of a character [name]Tom[/name] plays. I hope this helps. I don’t have issues building the character. My problem is naming them. I am just not good with names. Often I come up with a good name and I google it only to learn it belongs to someone famous, a singer, a author, or even a character already.

I use numerology and astrology if I’m needing help fleshing a character out. It’s good for generic good and bad habits, and from there I’m usually inspired. Sometimes I even fill out those online tests to discover your Myers-[name]Briggs[/name] Personality Type, as my character of course. I think about the character’s family, upbringing, culture, religion, etc. [name]Even[/name] if none of it is mentioned in the novel, it’s good to know, and usually a pretty good source of inspiration for the character. Occasionally I use bits from people I know, or have known, but I don’t tend to like doing that. I find it invasive and sometimes I find it makes the character feel more like a caricature. I do however have a notebook of random pieces from stranger’s lives. Conversations I overhear in the grocery store and such. Sometimes just one sentence makes a character pop into my head and I go, “Ooh! Interesting! What might your story be?”

Celtic Astrology: [name]How[/name] the Mystical [name]Power[/name] of the Druid Tree Signs Can Transform Your Life and Darkside Zodiac are two of my favorite books for fleshing characters out.

It’s also helpful to have a friend (preferably another writer who “gets it”) interview you as if you were your character. Sometimes you discover interesting things. I remember once my go-to writing pal asked me “do you believe in god?” and I had no idea, but once I’d thought about it, my character suddenly had a backstory and some interesting little quirks. Perhaps I simply have multiple personalities, but I really like pretending to be my character when I do online quizzes. If I’m a little nutty, well, at least it will make for some interesting characters!

You make some good points, redwoodfey. I’ve often wondered how much writers think about astrology when they develop characters. Does it really matter when their birthdays are?

I listen to conversations when I’m out and about too. Some people say the oddest things.

[name]Ah[/name], that’s a great reminder. I use astrology and numerology too, but for some reason totally spaced on that for my newest project!

The interview thing is a very good one as well. And I totally agree with you on the caricature thing, that’s why I’m starting to dislike that method myself.

I love to use astrology, I haven’t really looked into numerology. But I also have my own little biography I fill out for characters. This includes their traits, and likes, dislikes, and favorite objects, fears, ambitions. Fatal flaws, and/or redeeming qualities. I just find things online that force me to go in depth. You can find really helpful forms to fill out online. Things that ask you what sorts of things they would find in their junk drawer, or what they went dressed as for Halloween when they were younger. And sometimes when you think of those different questions, some idea or personality quirk will spark from it. Also, there are a few really amazing Tumblr blogs that you would probably love! I’ll link a few of them and specifically to their tags pages which narrow down their posts by categories, such as character development and the likes.

WriteWorldis by far my favorite. Their writers toolbox is one of the most helpful pages I’ve found myself on.
The other’s I love: TotalRewrite, FYWH, AgonyOfAnUntoldStory, TheWritersHelpers(one of my top favorites), FYCD(specifically for ccharacter development), ReferenceForWriters, YeahWriters. I hope that helps some!

Thanks so much @redwillow for those links!

Anytime! [name]Hope[/name] you find them as useful as I did. I’ve spent hours just reading articles. They were a bit addicting for me.

For about a week or so before I actually start writing, I make several journal entries in my character’s mind. It might not ever show up in your book, but it at least developes the character in your mind and helps you understand him/her as best as you can. I take traits from friends, but I try to not take very obvious ones (especially if they are negative traits–wouldn’t want my friends finding out that I’ve been rewriting them and their habits in my fictional imagery). Something like a character never dotting her i’s, the way he taps his fingers on a desk when he’s nervous, if a certain person doesn’t like the smell of cooking oil; these are a few things that, I think, would slip under the radar if a friend of mine was reading my book. People have often called me out for talking to myself, but sometimes it works. [name]Just[/name] monologue for a bit in your character’s mind. This is especially fun if you’re the theater-type :slight_smile:
Good luck and happy writing!

@redwoodfey, @redwillow & @laileybug those suggestions are phenomenal! I’ve been writing for a while, but I’m really trying to improve as a whole, but more specifically in the way I develop characters and story lines.

For an old story I based several (male) characters off people I know, but then both my image of the people and the characters in the story changed so now they’re nothing alike. I wouldn’t recommend the method, though.

People will probably assume you did that, though. I sent a bit of my writing to an old classmate and she told me she recognised someone and was overall pretty sure I based everything on our old class. I did not.

When trying to flesh out your characters, the internet (esp tumblr) can be a real goldmine. There are randomizing tools and huge lists of quirks, looks, diseases, habits, hobbies, locations, … just like there are for names. When working on several characters, you can go down the list and decide which point fits which character best. It’s a bit like these party games: Who’s most likely to become president, who will laugh when someone hurts themselfes, who believes in magic, …

I’ve also used Meyers [name_m]Briggs[/name_m] for a character, and I bet other personality tests can be super helpfull, too!