Character Design 101 with Poison Apple

For your reading pleasure The Infection would like to present ‘Character design 101 with Poison Apple’

This post is for those of you who have had an idea for a story and dont know how to make characters for it. Beware that my advice is not the end all to character design for a story but I think that my advice will be able to help you improve your story.

Every good story requires good characterization, that’s a fact. The audience has to be able to connect with the characters on some level no matter what race, species, age or mentality. If your audience isn’t able to connect to a character on some minimal level then your characters seem one dimensional and unbelieveable. Believeable characters create a believeable story, no matter how nonsensical the story can be. If you’ve got good characters with personality then you can get away with nearly anything in a story.

So, where do we start in the grand process of designing a character? We have two ways of going about this process. One way of going about the whole ordeal is to write out the scenario or a brief outline of the plot. Dont detail the characters or anything like that when you make the outline, just write down how you want it to begin. Describe the world surrounding the character and the situation that said person or people are in. Questions to ask are where, why and when.  The advantage to doing this is that you now can design characters that are appropriate to the genre and elements in the story. The disadvantage to this is that the story can easily become too plot driven.

The second way of going about this is to make the character before you write out your scenario/ plot outline. When designing characters in this fashion I like to start by writing out their basic information for reference. Things like age, sex, weight, height and nationality are the basic things you can put out for your character when you design them. By putting things like age and nationality, you help to define the basic mindset of your character. To help yourself even more in this process you can get into more details like their favourite foods, movies, hobbies and other things like that that might never ever come up in the plot at all. The more you know about this character, the better. The problem with this style is that you run the risk of making your story too character driven.  The advantage is that if you’ve properly defined the character’s personality then you can fit them into any genre because you know how they would react accordingly.

After you’ve defined the characters basic personality and the scenario, you have to make sure that the character looks the part. You can’t have a character in Nike sneakers and a basketball uniform in the middle of Lord of the Rings for no good reason. You cant have fully clad knights in the year 2020 unless you have a good reason. Make sure your characters look the part. By telling people what they wear and how they wear it can tell you about the character without having them say a word. It’s kind of like when you go out into the street late at night and you see a hooker on the corner. The hooker has the look of a hooker, this person does not dress up as a cop and offer you sex, they are scantily clad and wear makeup and you just know that they are hookers. So if your character is a cop, make them look like a cop. If your character is lazy and incompetent, you make them look the part. The fact is, looks can tell more than enough of a story for you so make use of it.

Another thing that can help in creating your character, is to draw them how you see them in your mind. Note that it’s most likely never going to turn out how you imagine them to be but it will help to try drawing them and how you imagine them to be. It’s also good to look on the internet for pictures of people with similar traits to your character. An example- my character has green eyes so I’ll look up ‘green eyes’ on Google. It’s always good to collect reference material just for viewing. Even if you don’t use it, it’s good to have it there just because.

All in all, if you use these basic tips and some sensible thinking then you’ll be able to create a kick ass character. My final tip is to try making your character suitable for any genre of story, make them well rounded no matter what the genre or their species. If your characters are adaptable then they’ll survive any change you throw at them and that’s what makes for a good character, the ability to grow. So…go now! Be fruitful and multiply my children and create greatness with my name, Poison, in your hearts!

Entertain me with your thoughts!

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