The Making of a Character

In creative writing, a major element in the story is the character. A character is the imaginary person in the story. A character can be completely made up by the writer, or inspired by a person from real life. Take a simple childhood story like “Little Red Riding Hood” as an example. The characters in that story were Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf, Grandma, and the Woodcutter. Each character in the story plays a specific part that kept the story flowing from beginning to end.

Let’s take a look at the types of characters in a story. There is the protagonist and antagonist. The protagonist, also known as the main character, is the first or central figure in a story.

The protagonist in “Little Red Riding Hood” is Little Red Riding Hood. We pay our main attention to that character since that is what the story is focusing on (hence the story’s title). The antagonist is the person that is against the protagonist.

There can be more than one antagonist in a story. In other words, the antagonist is the enemy and opposes the main character in the story. Who is the bad guy, or enemy that was trying to harm Little Red Riding Hood? The wolf. The wolf’s plan was to dress up as the grandmother so that he could eat the little girl. In a story, there can be a third character of importance: the tritagonist. Finding the tritagonist can be a bit difficult. Some people may say the tritagonist is the grandmother since she is the third character that is introduced. Others may say it is the Woodcutter because he was the one who saved Little Red Riding Hood. Either way, these individuals in the story are of importance.

Now, we have to wonder how the author was able to even come up with these characters. You may wonder, “How am I going to make a character in my own story?” Well, in order to answer this question, you must ask yourself these following questions:

  1. What will my character look like?
  2. How does my character think or act?
  3. What kind of personality does my character have?
  4. How do I come up with the character’s name?

This process can be easy for some, and difficult for others. One of the best ways to do this is by making a skeleton. Like different bones, organs, and muscles make up a person, a character is the same way. Below is a skeleton of what can make up your character:

  • Name of character:
  • Age:
  • Personality:
  • The goal of the character and why it is important:
  • What the character looks like (height, skin color, weight):
  • Where is the character from and living currently?:
  • Anything else about the character that comes to mind:

In this example, I am going to create my own character using the skeleton I made.

  • Name of character: Mary Hammon
  • Age: 18
  • Personality: kind and very intelligent, but extremely shy.
  • The goal of the character and why it is important: Mary is going into her first year at her state college, but the problem is she has a fear of not performing well in class. She wants to learn how to overcome that hurdle and do well in her new school year.
  • What the character looks like (height, skin color, weight): about 5’4”, 140 pounds. Skin is tanned and hair is blonde and shoulder-length. Hammon wears glasses, light lip gloss, and has pierced ears.
  • Where is the character from and living currently?: She is from Toledo, Ohio and is living in Iowa. She goes to the University of Iowa.
  • Anything else about the character that comes to mind: Her mother died when she was seven years old from a car accident, so her father (who is a lawyer) raised Mary by himself. His profession helped pay his daughter’s way to college.

Remember--you can start anywhere on the skeleton. If you can’t come up with the name now, then hold off until later. This process can take some time so that you can allow your creativity juices to flow.

Writing Prompt:

Use the character skeleton to make up two characters of your choice; one must be the protagonist, and the other, the antagonist.