Character Personality Design

8 years ago | G.S. Williams (Member)

I'm trying to shake off the rust and get back into writing, and I've been designing a new character with Wildbow's help for an upcoming project (thanks Wildbow! It's therapeutic!)

I came across the online personality test that uses pictures to figure out what you're thinking. It was weirdly accurate about me, as myself, but then I tried to answer it from the character's point of view. It was bang on, for a lot of the things I picture mattering to them and the way decisions would be made, so I wondered if it would be useful / interesting to anyone else:

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  1. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    My issue with those quizzes is that they tend to give you answers that are vague and generic enough to apply to virtually anyone. That one may narrow it down some by identifying key areas of introversion or extroversion, but it's still going to aim for a pretty wide target.

    I write my characters like I write my stories/chapters/scenes. I either start from the beginning and let things organically flow from there (begin with a pivotal moment, a scene or event, move from there), with context already established or building on it as I go (what culture were they raised in, expectations, goals, why do they have those goals). When I've caught up to where the character is presently at, I have a solid idea of who they are.

    Conversely, I write them with the ending point in mind, and everything flows backwards. Build context, build influences, ideas and background, identify key, pivotal scenes, and flesh them out as much as is necessary.

    Where I have trouble is finding ways to set characters apart and giving them a different voice so they don't blend in together. We've chatted some about that.

  2. G.S. Williams (Member)

    Posted 8 years ago

    Yeah, "voice" intrigues me in narration because it impresses me when one writer can create distinctively different styles.

    JZ does it in Legion for Cassie and Rachel, contrasted with his usual narrator, Nick. Cassie was a lot different, less logical and more action oriented. Rachel is less open, and she's Nick's sister so we'll see how that goes.

    Heinlein did 4 different character voices in Number of the Beast.

    I try out 3 in NMAI and I think people would say they are distinct? I have 4 in Diggory and I think that means I like the idea.

    I didn't use the test to design the character. What was interesting was what answers it gave when I tried answering the test "in character" because it suited him but was distinct from my original test as the "control" .


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