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Submitted on
January 24, 2009
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   You may have wondered how people come up with Original Characters with a functioning personality in the past. You may have also left your mouth agape when you saw someone have their Original Character react negatively to a spider at one moment, then hug their spider anthro friend in the next. Well, it's really a simple process that requires one thing so rarely used these days; thought. I'm expecting you have a general idea of your character at this point and are seeking to deepen or improve their personality now. If so, you can skip a few steps.

     Step one: Build a base for your character.

   All things are built on a strong foundation.
Find the center of your character's mind, their motivation in life, and their drive to keep breathing (if that is indeed what they do; not all characters are human).
Something simple like "Survival," will more than suffice, as an existence like this will lead to self-conflict of yearning for a higher existence, and thus, to a deepened personality!
A few other things you can use, albeit generic, are; Revenge, Fear, Adventure, Pleasure, Greed, Envy, God, Servitude, and the like.
Also, imagine how your character's race will affect the potency of this drive. Humans are dependent upon a drive for purpose and a desire to live, an alien race may not be like this.
•Another important factor to consider is events and people which might have a heavy influence upon your character's self-decided purpose after it is set in stone. You may want to consider slowly but surely changing your character's drive as your story continues, should you so choose. This will surely lead to a more interesting read. (Added by DragonofAether)

     Step two: Build upon your base.

   Set up their life.
Decide what family they had, if any. The sizes of family can vary from limitless energy beings, to entire colonies, or a simple American family of four.
Give them a place to live, or a lack thereof, and make them a living thing. Your choices are truly beyond your comprehension. Take the size of the universe, of all existence, and multiply that by all the time that has come, is, and will be. That is less than the amount of choices you have!

     Step three: Add some furnishings.

   What can truly change your character is the little things.
What's their gender?
Their race? (<-- Note this will apply to humans and possibly to alien races. Humans divide themselves into races like Asian and English, this is the context I am using. I am not saying Human or Qiqirn)
Their appearance? (<-- may be affected by step four, events, in ways such as physical scars)
What do they like? (<-- will most certainly be affected by drive and step four)
Who do they care about, or do they even have the capability? Who is their hero, do they even have one?
This can be a challenging step however and is VERY easy to screw up! You're limited here by your prior two choices.
If they're driven by God, will they truly care about their appearance? No, they won't!
If they were born in space and went through a traumatizing experience with the waste ejection system, will they love grass and the planet? No! They'll prefer to keep clean in a metal ship!
Consider all prior choices here, Victorian furniture in a modern home is ick, and vice versa. If you get what I'm saying.


     Step four: Weather your structure.

   Everything experiences all forms of emotions. Even simple-minded animals gain a memory of what their masters did to them, and act accordingly.
Don't just put one important event like "and then the evil Dr. Malu impaled Drake's father before his eyes!" While that is a viable choice, you have many more to take advantage of to make you character a living mind!
Give them an innocent childhood, or take it away.
Decide when they mature, at what rate, what they become, and what causes all of it.
If they have special powers, consider when and how they get them, and how it will affect them as a mind.
Put events in their life that will change the course of their life, or simply disturb them in a half-suppressed way until they're six feet under.

     Some tips for you, weary traveler.

   •"You gave me some good examples, but how do I figure out a drive of my own that's original?" Psychology my good man! Examine yourself, or others around you, and look deeply into your subject personality. What is the cause behind a habit of theirs? What makes them hate one person in particular? Why do they have their phobias? Extract it from that personality, and use it as your base for a new person!

   •"I'm having trouble imagining how an event would affect my character. What should I do?" There's yet another simple process for this as well.
a) Imagine the phobias or likings it may develop. Being bitten or stung by a bee at a young age multiple times may lead to insectophobia, just as well as playing with friendlier bumblebees may lead to a liking for insects. Think of it the way a child would, because childhood is when the basis of a human mind can be seen. During adolescence, people become too embarrassed to show who they are inside.
b) Imagine what subconscious effects it may have on your character. These can be as simple as becoming an angrier person from childhood abuse.
c) Compare all of this to WHEN it happens in your character's life. You may have noticed all of my examples are during childhood. That is because events during childhood are much more likely to deeply effect a person. Note this applies to HUMANS ONLY. If your character is apart of your own original race, you will have to build their base psychology, which is a real challenge to do well.

   •"This is all really confusing me. Maybe I'll just make another generic 'I'm sad' emo character." GTFO! If it's confusing you, just write your ideas down or put them in a notepad on your pc or mac. It's not always easy, based on your character's complexity.

   •"You seem to have left out a lot of aspects of a person. Why?" I'm expecting you're already pretty knowledgeable on on how a mind works. Chances are if you didn't think on an aspect of a person, it's not all that important, and can be left out. When you decide what a person does, it is slightly influenced by you, and thus the subconscious aspects are provided by you. This is where a part of relating to a character can come from! We're all human, and thus all original characters will be partially human too! How do you think you feel like a robot while reading a first person perspective book about robots?

   •"He's/she's only a minor character in the story, do I really have to put them through this process?"
No. The more minor characters are usually the center of attention, or just in the scene of the story, for just a short while. So the whole reason they exist is to pull an elevator lever, or to tell off your main character(s).

   •"Do I have to do this to make a good story?"
Pffffffft! Of course not! You can easily make a good story without worrying about your characters so much. This is a lot like in the older days of writing when characters were named for their part in the story and obsessed with one thing. My own "Blinded by Dreams" is an example of that style of writing, whereas my fanfic "Hyuponia, Kingdom of Sorrow" involved a lot of psychological thinking. There are better examples though, none of which come to mind at the moment.

     A word of warning... and of encouragement.

   This is a very long and hard process, but it is well worth it. Because at the end, after all the studying, thought, and creation, you will know your character inside and out! Remember, you do not create the story, your characters create it for you! Kind of like how God made us, and now we're out of his control, huh? =P (No Sacriligious comments please. If you're an Atheist, take this as a joke, please.)
   I wish you the best of luck in your writing endeavors! If you think you're too slow after having worked on one character for months, you're not. You're doing a top notch, high quality job! Keep pushing forward until you're done, and your story (if given a decent plot) will be great!
I'm so effin tired of seeing shallow characters. D: All they care about is one thing, or they're so uninteresting it hurts. I figured it's about time someone wrote one of these. No accrediting required, but I appreciate it. ;P I hope everyone can make use of this!


I will tweak it when given suggestions. :>

Edit: February 22, 2009
I made a few adjustments to the sentence structure at some parts. It was kinda confusing, I guess. >.< Fixed some spelling mistakes too.

Edit: September 30, 2009
Added a suggestion from the wonderful ~DragonOfAether. :) "Changing one's purpose."

Edit: September 10, 2012
Add a Comment:
Gray-Zakuro Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is so helpful! Thank you for making this guide :D
god510 Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2014
if only i could draw i have the perfect oc in my mind
kisryou Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2014  Student Artist
Do i need to draw ? :iconuhuhuhuplz:
PercipientFish Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2014  Student Artist
Only if you want to.
kisryou Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014  Student Artist
I'm very bad at draw 
AvelynnOC Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I made an OC and I finished her up using this :D Now I can make her out of polymer clay :D
xVerdelet Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2013  Student Writer
Heh. Despite this being up ages ago, I'll comment anyway.

I already have multiple characters, a number of which are already developed. However, I'd still like to thank you for putting this up. It helped me to make a(nother) character when my mind felt totally blank. It also made me think of a number of things that would definitely count when it comes to using her (she's going to be placed in an rp group), which helps quite a bit.

Once again, thank you.
mistychadwick Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you for this. I have always had trouble with my characters, and explaining how they feel etc...
piyoh99 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think this will help out a lot. My universe is mainly one of weirdness. But my OC Piwi, A robotic girl. became more down to earth after I read this. Here's a short draft of what I came up with...

Piwi was made in a lab by a scientist named Kimble to be the first humanoid robot with a heart. However, Since Kimble is usually working on making more things. She usually neglects Piwi, Making her more detached from her mother and didn't know much about anything, Making her usually play with her neighbors who are mostly boys. Piwi grew to adapt to their roughhousing ways and tends to think she's a boy, However one of her friends were different, A boy named Dee, He was shy and tended to stay quiet while everyone else played, Piwi was the first to notice and wanted to know why. Dee always kept silent in front of everyone and just didn't talk to her. But after getting used to Piwi after she tried so many times to make him open up to people. Dee eventually grew to be a good friend of hers and taught her how to do things for herself. A few days afterwards, A bully took Dee's hat. A hand-me-down from his father's and threw it in a lake, Piwi didn't know what to do and tried to stand up against the boy. Only to be pushed in the lake as well, Piwi couldn't swim at all and Dee was completely scared of seeing Piwi drown and called for help. But he had to do it himself and went in the lake to save her. Piwi was OK since she was built to last long underwater. But she developed a fear of water. After being rescued. Piwi wanted to get revenge and decided to fight the bully again, But got beaten up by him instead, Dee realized Piwi wasn't very capable of defending herself in battle and wanted to train her how to fend for herself... However there's still ways to go before she can be truly strong.

This is a little draft of the idea of her backstory. It's not entirely complete yet...
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