How I Build a Character

When I write, I don’t do backstories, diaries, or character sketches that nobody will ever read. I don’t make notes either. I try not to divert myself from the task at hand, which is writing the story. I draft the story out from beginning to end in as complete a manner as I possibly can. In that first draft I actually attempt to write the story as it will appear, although edits will always change this.

Almost all stories revolve around characters of some sort or another. If there are no characters, is there a story? Maybe, but I’m not going to get into that right now. So how do I develop these characters if I don’t use standard writing methods? I begin with a Name, or a handful of Names. That is where I start any story. From Names I build basic relationships and the events which unfold.

Names are important and shouldn’t be given to Story Central Characters all willy-nilly. How much thought does a parent give to naming a child? So it should be for the author as he/she gives birth to a new character if the character helps drive plot and theme.

I will provide an example from “The Scrolls of Sion: Rise of the Dark Queen.” The Sage, Adikavi, is perhaps the oldest inhabitant of Brynmor. I wanted to give him a name that was suited for such a being. Adikavi is a Sanskrit name meaning The First Poet. Immediately, I realized this to be a befitting name for the oldest of the Sages. “Scrolls” has Five Sages, each representing an Element and a Race, (Quintessence is an Element.) I made Adikavi Orcish in features, because the Orc live the longest lives in Brynmor and hence all prominent Orcs would receive Sanskrit names. The Orc Great Chieftain, Balesh’s name literally translates from Sanskrit to Master of an Army.

Although it will not be picked up by the average reader, the names themselves contain pertinent information as to who the character is at his/her core. The name tells me how the character will behave and speak. The name gives me the back story of the character to some degree. The name is the foundation and cornerstone upon which I build. The rest of the character gets laid down brick by brick as the story progresses.

(Stop by my other blog for a limited time offer of 40% off “The Scrolls of Sion: Rise of the Dark Queen” )


4 thoughts on “How I Build a Character”

  1. What an interesting look into your writing process. I agree that the name must be carefully considered. These things can make a huge difference to a story.

    1. thank you very much Neeks I’ve used generic names in the past, but with any attempt at serious writing I have always tried to sow in as much secret meaning as possible into the text, subtle things and one of the best ways to do that is names of characters and places. Or at least that is what I have found, plus for me it gives the Character immediate depth once I have named him/her…

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