Before I broke ground on what will hopefully be my first completed short story (should finish the first draft this weekend), I fell into what many seem to find – the spinning black hole that is research, research, and continual research. Looking back, I wish I had kept track of the enormous amount of time I wasted. I’m sure it’s a ridiculous number, however, I did find a few diamonds sites that will continue to prove worthwhile.
Part of my research focused on character creation, more specifically how a writer’s characters take shape and come alive. I’ve never had a problem with putting the basics on paper but was and still am very interested in hearing how others do it. There is a ton of material out there for this, especially if you count the character sheets and generators normally used for role-playing games. Since my initial writing will be in the fantasy genre I ran into a ton of that type of thing. I actually stayed away from them and kept my search pointed toward those websites and resources focused on helping writers.
There are two main websites the proved extremely helpful.
1. The resource page of National Novel Finishing Month
Each of them have more materials than I’ve even used at this point, but I really like the generators on The Seventh Sanctum and the character sheets on NaNoFiMo. The generators are amazing. While I haven’t used anything exactly as it was ‘generated,’ I have used it several times when I hit a block on how my new character, Yuri, might act or some of the experiences he might have.
The character sheets, on the other hand, I honestly haven’t used much but can see how they’d prove helpful. My thought is to establish the basics of who Yuri is and then let him evolve before working on things like his background story, motivation, etc. I did start out with a basic outline of his character but found that as soon as I started writing him into his current situation, he changed tremendously. He went from an elf, to a dwarf, to a gnome, which of course meant that most everything else had to change too. We’re now to the point that I can mentally see him and feel like I’ve gotten to know him, so maybe I’ll fill that sheet out again in the not-to-distance future.
If anyone out there has had experience using anything similar, please feel free to comment. I’d still love to hear how others develop their characters, and whether or not you’ve had success with things like the generators or character sheets.