NaNoPrep: Creating Characters


Characters. Without them, there would be no books. Even the most epic of storylines isn’t going to rivet readers without a diverse cast of well written people to carry it through. So it makes sense that you would want to work out at least something about your characters before you start writing your book. That’s not to say you have to know every single detail about them before you start. In fact, you might prefer to discover their personalities as you write. But it is a good idea to work out at least a couple of basic things before you get started.

The least you need to know about your characters is their names and approximate ages. You may also like to work out what their profession is. This should give you enough information to start off with. It is also a good idea to brainstorm a list of possible names for other characters who might turn up along the way as well, especially if you prefer not to call every single character John or Mary.

If you feel like doing more work to get to know your characters, then there’s plenty you can do. You could fill out a character questionnaire. There are plenty of good ones online that will help give a fairly rounded view of a character’s life. I’ve included a couple in my resource list down below. You could also find a picture that represents your character, or even draw one if you’re artistically talented. If you like to work your characters out beforehand, go crazy. It’ll only help your book in the end. However, in all your character planning, remember that your characters may change and grow in ways that you didn’t expect at the beginning.

There are plenty of amazing resources on the internet that are perfect for helping build characters. Below I’ve listed just a few that I find help me. Hopefully some of them will help you too:

Character name and personality generator:
This is a really great generator if you want a character in a hurry. It gives you everything from name and personality to potential jobs as well. Also good for inspiration for character traits.

Detailed character chart:
If you want to put a bit of work into getting to know your characters then you might find this character chart useful. It’s very detailed and is useful in helping you get to know all sides of your character.

Simpler character chart:
If you’d like to fill out a questionnaire for your character, but you don’t want to answer too many questions then you might find this chart useful. It’s less detailed than the last one, but it still covers all the most important details.

Elizabeth Lewis’ Pinterest:
There are some really cool boards on this account that are perfect for character inspiration. I would especially recommend the ‘Souls’ board. It has a vast range of pictures that are perfect for character reference.

Vasilia’s Character Pinterest:
This Pinterest account is the ultimate place to find character reference pictures. There are heaps of boards dedicated solely to pictures for characters, and they’re all split up by hair colour, gender, and other such details. If you’re looking for a picture for a specific character, definitely check these boards out.

Behind the Name: This website has a great random generator that is perfect for helping find names for characters. You can generate names from specific countries, or even from mythology. It’s the best name generator I’ve found so far.

How much do you like to know about your characters before you start writing? Do you like to know everything? Or do you prefer to get to know them as you go?

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  1. Thank you for sharing these amazing resources! I would prefer to know my characters really well before starting , but normally, I learn more and more about them during the actual process of writing my stories:)
    Great post Imogen! xx
    The Journeys of My Beating Heart

    1. I learn a lot more about my characters while I'm writing too. Sometimes I fill in a whole character chart to get myself going, and then the character changes completely while I'm writing. Which is great! I love it when my characters become people in their own right, don't you?

  2. When planning, normally the only thing I ever end up planning is my characters and a basic outline of the plot. I guess I'm a pantseer. Thanks for the links:)

    1. Being a pantser is so much fun isn't it? I reckon if you have a basic idea of the plot and know your characters pretty well, as a pantser, you have everything you need to make an amazing story.

  3. Dammit! I just found this post... Wish I'd read it earlier. I just made a post about character-building... I'm going to edit and link to this post, I hope you don't mind!

    1. I actually just got finished reading your post on character building. It was pretty amazing. I'd be honoured for you to link to my post. Thanks!


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