Question: Where do you start making a character?
Answer: I start with both a visual element and a conceptual element. Which is a fancy way of saying I doodle things and then examine the thoughts that come up in association with that doodle. I try to figure out what pieces of me are going into that image and character.
All my characters start with a piece of who I am. They are not me, but a portion of me. Pakku has my obsessive tendencies when it comes to fixating on tiny details. Tama has my desire to leave the beaten path. Kali possesses my struggles with obligation and responsibility. Mizha is imaginative, but retreats from her own feelings. Zhiro wants to be someone he’s not to make another person proud. So on and so forth, for every member of the cast.
The more I can understand which pieces of myself I’m tapping into, the stronger the character becomes. The personality becomes more real, because I have a more intimate understanding of the emotional core of the individual. It also can come in handy when writing blocks strike, because often they’re linked to the nerves and buttons the character pushes. Having them face down something difficult in their lives means I have to face down some aspect of that myself. That’s not always an easy thing to do, and can induce a writing block. If I can recognize the pattern, it’s easier to address and move beyond.
Early on in the character development process, I’ll also look for a key word, a motive, and a fear. The key word summarizes the major lesson they will learn about in their character arc. The motive is what drives them proactively. The fear is what drives them reactively. If I’m stuck trying to figure out what to do next with a character, referring back to one of these three things usually gives me insight on how to move forward.
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