Useful Tips

We are writing a book: How to create a hero? or Image Elements (Part 1)


Any book, play, film, novel and game has one thing in common - the presence of at least one character. Some have two or more, while others have thousands of characters! Sometimes the “character” is you.

No matter what the characters, books and films would be without them would be lifeless and boring. This instruction will give you the basics and help you learn how to create your own characters!

Create your own character

  1. 1 Define the setting or start scene. "Do you lift the curtain" on paper or on a computer screen, your hero must exist somewhere, even if it is a virtual nonexistence. Maybe it will be an apartment in Paris or parking in New York. This will not only set the scenery for your character, but also help outline his or her personality.
  2. 2 Following the rule of journalists, start with the following data:

Where, who, what, when and how.

Education, school, profession, place of work, purpose

Conflict, dilemma, opportunity, choice / action (advantages and consequences),

Health, sexuality, mindset, stages of life, danger, triumph / defeat, ups / downs, death.

If you are going to create a character, most likely, the idea of ​​a plot / story has already formed in your head.

  • If you are working on a grand, vast saga like The Lord of the Rings, you will need a whole world of characters — good, evil, men and women. even those who cannot be called servants of good or minions of evil.
  • If you are writing an introspective story, you may need no more than one hero.
  • 3 Get creative. Although this is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "character", not every one of them must be a person. For example, in “The Lord of the Rings” Tolkien, Mount Karadras acts as a character filled with a cold threat, while in Hemingway's novel “The Old Man and the Sea,” the marlin becomes one of the main characters.
  • 4 Start with the archetype / pattern. Only who you need depends on your story, but starting with broad criteria, you can make decisions that will gradually determine your character by exclusion. So you will be like a sculptor who cuts off pieces of excess marble and reveals the statue hidden in it. Character scheme includes culture and personality traits (ordinary person or hero, tyrant, superman or orc).
    • Most likely, to indicate a conflict, your plot should be based on a protagonist (hero) and antagonist (villain). It may be appropriate to introduce a minor character, such as a minion, best friend, romantic affection, buddy, or loved one. Please note that sometimes the person you think of as a protagonist — a good guy — is portrayed as an antagonist. For example, Kong in King Kong.
    • Maybe you need some antiheroes like Clint Eastwood’s Pale horseman, good ones villainslike lenny small in About mice and humansdark horses like jack sparrow in Pirates of the caribbean, a fatal woman (which cannot be resisted and she leads her man to greatness, difficulties, dangers and disasters), as Jessica Rabbit Who Framed Roger Rabbittreacherous friends like lago in Othello or Peter bailish in Game of Thrones, or maybe a clever conductor, like Smeagol in Lord of the rings. Each of these heroes began with an archetype, and then acquired an ever new shape as the story unfolds.
  • 5 Add special features. Once you have identified the archetype of your hero, you can add traits and qualities, remove what is not typical for your character, and begin to show the sculpture imprisoned in marble. Ask yourself what you want the audience to feel about your hero: love, pity, disgust, sympathy, or nothing at all. Start drawing a character based on your desired outcome.
    • Decide on the gender of the character. This will start the hero’s general point of view, suggest archetype-dependent traits, and may even become the starting point of your character’s conflict situation and history when viewed through the prism of public prejudice, whether fair or not. For example, an unceremonious man is perceived differently than a presumptuous woman. (Which in both cases is further determined by your character!)
    • Age is also considered an important factor. Older people are perceived as wiser, but this plays a role in other cases. A young villain is often portrayed and looks like bad blood or just crazy. An old villain can also be considered so, but also can be justified by adversity, which gives him much more depth. The young idealist hero awakens other feelings than a person who has lost his taste for the life of a warrior who simply does the right thing. And when their life in history comes to an end, the reaction to this is also completely different.
    • Sometimes heroes can be controversial. Don Quixote was a wayward old man who spent his whole life locked up reading chivalric novels and was depressingly naive. But it was precisely this naivety that prompted him to seek adventure and love, to create fantastic ideas about the world around him, when reality did not live up to his expectations.
  • 6 Define the goal or task of your character. In a scary story, the protagonist may seek to survive in every way possible — for example, Ripley’s Alien, in a romantic story, the antagonist will try to stop the hero from finding his “true love,” like Prince Humperdinck’s Princess bride.
    • The way your characters confront the inevitable obstacles between them and their goals most clearly characterizes them. In complex stories, this can constantly intersect when the goals and achievements of some actors interfere with others, which creates further action and interweaving of events and gradually raises the stakes.
  • 7 Let them open. To actually revive a character, give him a personality that goes beyond the story. Some personality traits of your hero will never directly manifest themselves in your story, but will help reinforce the decisions that the character will have to make.
    • Make a list that your character likes and dislikes, and make sure he is balanced. In other words, one annoyance should not have 10 annoying factors and vice versa. Even the most capricious characters love something, even if it is just their reflection in the mirror.
    • Your character’s attitude consists of complementary qualities that can cause unexpected actions and can change the audience’s attitude towards him. For example, a character who loves freedom, most likely, will not obey power, but if they cannot live without fruit muffins and spectacular cars, they are unlikely to respect savings and restrictions. If your character is ruthless, but suddenly saves a helpless child from a burning building, the audience will completely rethink the idea of ​​him.
  • 8 Spice up your character. Good habits, bad habits, or just what a character cannot stop doing without serious discipline or leadership. It can be some trifle, like biting his nails (which will show his anxiety), or an obsessive combing of hair (vanity or insecurity), or something serious, like a drug addiction (someone who is afraid of responsibility and is looking for escape) or the desire for death (hopelessness and despair).
    • The more of these qualities and little things you give your character, the faster they "come to life" in the imagination of the audience.
  • 9 Give your character a home — with a mirror. Work out external characteristics, such as place of residence, appearance, pets, etc.
    • Does your hero live in a well-kept house in an elite area (money aristocracy) or in a tattered shack (hard life)? Most of the details you choose suggest something about the character or his story.
  • 10 Work through their fears, weaknesses, incentives and the most important secrets. This helps to create a more realistic character and allows you to develop its archetype. The popular strengths and weaknesses of the hero are loyalty or infidelity.
  • 11 You can borrow the manners and traits of the people around you. Observe people in the store or on the subway. Everywhere you can find the prerequisites for your character.
    • Pay attention to the appearance — the shape of the nose, jaws, ears, body, how clothes sit on them, or how they present themselves.
    • If you like their appearance, describe to yourself those moments that seem attractive to you and transfer them to your characters. If you notice someone who looks scary, honestly admit to yourself why this person scares you, even if this reason is completely unfounded or politically incorrect. Use this information to identify your characters.
    • Create characters that combine in themselves these traits — you should not completely copy the hero from one or two people, because if they find out about it, you will be in trouble.
  • 12 Create associations with symbolic archetypes. When you compare character traits with our perceptions of things, this will help you identify your character and predict his moods and actions. For example,
    • Roses do not bloom for long, but people adore them.
    • Snakes are unpredictable and can bite without warning.
    • Stone buildings are stable and difficult to change.
    • Storms bring destruction, but portend a rise.
    • A sharp sword is also a threat to those who bring it.
  • 13 Take the guise of your character. First, draw an associative map of everything that you talked about and everything that you want to solve for your character. Have a recorder — you can record yourself on most phones or computers too — and take an interview with you, or better yet, ask a friend to interview you when you’re wearing your character. Then write it down, fill out your associative card to reveal what you did not know about your hero, and work out his personality. If you made a mistake during recording, you can always use it to branch the image, deepen the idea even further.
    • Feel your character and put yourself in his / her place. Sometimes the best characters come from your own ideals, character, strengths and weaknesses, as well as those qualities of your family members, friends and enemies.
  • Create the look of a hero

    1. The visual appearance.

    The general elements of the visual image are the color of the eyes, hair and skin, height-weight, complexion, facial features, presence-absence of any limbs, gait - stooping or with a straight back. Additional elements - an unusual shape of the ears or lips, hair, scars, limp, glasses, moles, mustache, beard, freckles, etc.
    Appearance is a sign. And our consciousness is filled with stereotypes that respond to signs. Just as with the symbolic word “apple” we imagine the image of the fruit and its taste, so when describing the hero we associate his appearance with template character traits.

    For example, a plump and stunted person will be immediately considered by many to be a good-natured, red-haired and green-eyed woman - a passionate and freedom-loving nature, a limping black-eyed man with a scar - definitely a thug, a blue-eyed blonde - the near-minded mind of an angel. And so on.

    Choosing the color of the eyes and hair for the character, we not only focus on our own ideal, but also subconsciously attribute to him the features of a stereotype. And you can play this, making the chubby "good man" the main villain, and the blond angel - the imp, surprising readers with a surprise of perception.

    2. Clothing and shoes.

    We dress ourselves, proceeding from character traits (in everyday life), from need (season or work), from fashion, from national features or subculture features (emo or goths). We dress and shoe characters according to the same principles. And just choose the color and cut of clothes and shoes, accessories like neckerchiefs or hats.

    Clothing and its color will tell a lot to knowledgeable people - about character, about preferences and fears. When working on the image of a hero, knowledge of psychological characteristics - at least the color scheme - can be very useful. It is also useful to study local subcultures - they are symbolic, and on their basis you can create something of your own.

    3. Auditory and kinesthetic (tactile) perception.

    TO auditory perception refers primarily to the timbre of the voice. And on the correspondence-mismatch of voice and appearance, you can play, diversifying the image and surprising the reader.

    Surely many noticed that sometimes the voice corresponds to the appearance: a woman so pleasant in appearance speaks in a quiet, calm and melodious voice. And sometimes not: for example, a short, fragile girl speaks in a hoarse bass.

    The audible perception of the image also includes all the sounds made by a person: coughing, grunting, sniffling, exclamation, chuckles. And a relentlessly sniffing or blowing nose person causes a certain emotional reaction that will complement the image. As well as the vocal characteristics of the national characteristics of speech - the well-known dialect "perjury" or "yakan", "swallowing" the last syllable, etc.

    The whole gamut of human emotions is reflected in the voice - in a surprised exclamation, in raising the tone in anger, in stuttering in embarrassment, in screaming in discontent, etc. The Russian language is rich in descriptions of emotions, you just need to choose the right ones for your character.

    Kinesthetic perception - this is a sensation from a person. Smells, intuitive perception, sensation of aura. There are well-known common expressions - “an aura of danger came from him”, “he has heavy energy, and he suppressed himself.” And it’s not worth talking a lot about smells, and so it is clear. And you should not neglect these feelings, they are an integral part of the character and add to him “vitality”.

    Suitable for those who begin to write a book, and for those who want to finalize and "revive" a ready-made hero.

    In 14 days you will receive all the necessary theory and step-by-step practical tasks. At the end of the course you will have the full story of a hero on hand. You will learn his motives and come up with bright plot twists that will show the development of the character of the hero in the best way.
    Order a course

    4. Emotional and behavioral reactions.

    Facial expressions, gestures, changes in movements or in complexion - all this favorably complements the appearance of the character. Without them, he seems cardboard, painted, fake, inanimate.

    Emotional reactions - this is, in fact, an emotional response to one’s or someone else’s words, to behavior, to an unexpected meeting, to the feelings that one character experiences to another, to the attitude towards what is happening.

    So, the characters turn pale with anger, blush with rage, turn pink from embarrassment, turn green from longing. They smile joyfully or viciously, frown from displeasure, squint in suspicion and grimace, teasing.

    Behavioral reactions - this is a visible behavior: in gestures or in movements, familiar or changing in different situations.

    Habitual reactions - these are machine movements, those which the person himself no longer notices, but does constantly.

    Someone likes to twist a lock of hair on a finger, someone - pinch the earlobe, someone - scratch his nose or heel, someone reinforces the words with gestures and waves with a hand during a conversation. This can also include gait and landing - on the couch or at the table (often found: "habitually lounging on the couch" or "habitually climbing with your legs in an armchair").

    There are many options, and often the author transfers his own habits to the character’s image without noticing it.

    Changing reactions - these are changes in habitual actions or actions, depending on situations.

    So, a person stoops in a cold wind, starts and looks around at a sharp shout, threatens with a finger or shows a fist, stretches or rubs the tailbone after a long sitting, speeds up a step, being late, etc.

    Of course, in the initial description of the character, all these elements are not taken into account, but they can be gradually developed, weaving in case of plot. But first they need to be invented and put together in a single image. This can help observation - for yourself, for others, for random passers-by.

    Any person is already, consider, a ready-made character of a work from which you can write off the appearance. As well as borrow the inner world, which will be discussed in the second part of the article.

    Create an attractive character

    Give the characters names that fit your story. Each character in the story must have a name, and it does not matter if the main character is a character or a minor character. In addition, each name should fit into this story. For example, if the action takes place in 17th-century Ireland, the name “Bob” will sound implausible, but the name “Aidan” is extremely appropriate.

    • Or, if you are writing about a company of close friends, do not give them similar names, such as three girls named Manya, Maria, Marie.
    • Even if in the end you don’t use someone’s name in the story, for example, a minor character, it will be useful for you, as a writer, to know this name so as not to confuse the details when rewriting or editing your work.

    Give them a rich inner world and characteristic quirks to interest the reader. Присвойте персонажам индивидуальные черты и определенные причуды, например, они всегда пьют кофе с медом и сливками вместо сахара и сливок. Вот несколько вопросов, которые помогут начать работу над формированием некоторых особенностей:

    • Они экстраверты или интроверты?
    • Если им нравится музыка, то какая?
    • Чем они занимаются в свободное время?
    • What do they do before going to bed?
    • Do they have any dietary restrictions?
    • Another interesting way to penetrate a character is to pass personality tests on his behalf. You may make some amazing discoveries.

    Give it a unique voice. Most likely, the voice of your hero will be different from your voice, and in order to create a bright character, you need to decide how he will sound, and convey this sound in his speech. Explore different dialects, depending on when and where your story takes place, and listen to conversations when you are in public places to get inspired.

    • It can be very useful to reread your favorite story and see how the author conveyed the characters' speech.
    • Instead, you can try to record your conversation with a friend in order to study various features of speech: how often do you pause when the intonation changes, how fast do you speak? Use these metrics to create a character’s speech.

    Make the character vulnerable to arouse empathy with the reader. This can be an emotional or physical vulnerability, for example, a character who copes with a recent loss, or a superhero who loses his hearing when he is exhausted. To create a multifaceted, holistic, disposable character, you need to give him the vulnerabilities that we all have.

    • You can also try writing a scene in which a character shares something (for example, fears or feelings) with another hero to emphasize his humanity.
    • Even if you are describing a villain, find a way to give him at least a drop of humanity. If you can make the reader understand the villain’s feelings or motives, this will add tension to the story and it will be more interesting to read.

    Include weaknesses and failures to demonstrate the character’s human qualities. Perhaps the main character is quick-tempered or inclined to forget about his friends. If he is endowed with only positive traits (such as love, courage, intelligence and attractiveness), he will become boring and uninteresting for the reader.

    • Think about how you can demonstrate flaws without talking about them. For example, writing: “To begin with, Anna had dinner herself, instead of first feeding the children,” you could describe the place where this scene takes place.

    Give the character motivation and purpose to develop the story. Think about why your story is important to the character. How was he involved in it? Is this a love story, an epic adventure, a sci-fi thriller? What can a character lose or gain in the end? Character goals are key to writing an engaging story, so work hard to create an active, involved character.

    • Is your character looking for something? What will he lose if he fails? Did other people influence his failure or success? These are great questions to think about when writing a story.
    • The character must take an active part in the story. It’s not enough that different things just happen to him. So think carefully about what is at stake.
    • Think about your favorite characters from books, television shows or movies: what situations do they face and how do they react to good and bad scenarios?