This is an author toolbox hop post. Author toolbox is the creation of author Raimey Gallant ,a box with an emphasis on sharing tips, tricks, and advice with other authors as we all try to navigate together.
Characters make or break a story. Yes, there’s plot as well, but I think the characters end up being equally as important. After all, the action loses impact when we don’t really care about the people it’s happening to.
They are so important they deserve a good strong base of personality and a mix of fully realized traits. When creating my characters, I like to work off a list to make sure I’m remembering every angle. I pick what I need, mixing and matching depending on how I view my characters and what I need them to do in my story. You may already have a technique you like for this, in which case feel free to ignore my list. But if you’ve been feeling the need for some character types to brainstorm from all set in a neat line, read on.
Synonymous with smart, nerdy, bookish, scientific, geeky, or a combination of all of these at once. (In romance, we authors know that smart is definitely sexy.) These are your Hermione Granger, Annabeth Chase, Miss Phryne Fisher characters.
A character who can be depended on not to overreact or rush off half-prepared. Composed and chill through all circumstances, although it is fun to crack that surface and finally get them to panic at least once during your story. That’s how the other characters know things have really gotten dire! These are your Gandalf the Grey, wise and calm characters.
Not quite a villain, but definitely too ruthless to be the good one. They keep making bad choices, but somehow you can’t help holding out hope for their redemption. They are fighting back wounds and there’s that little buried spark of sweetness or vulnerability buried deep down. These are every single manga character ever (kidding, but really, this is huge in anime and manga) Tyrion Lannister (Game of Thrones), Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows), Circe (Madeline Miller) characters.
Your comic relief! Personally I love the smartass characters, but sometimes this is a villain trait. It could just be my obsessive love of Terry Pratchett novels speaking. They are also clever characters, but they zest that intelligence up with cynicism, sass, and enough salt to float a mid-sized sea. These are your Jay Krisoff (the author) characters like Mia Corvere, Lemon Fresh, Mr. Kindly, and everyone from the Illuminae Files. Also Havelock Vetinari, Samuel Vimes, Nanny Ogg, and Tiffany Aching (these are all Pratchett) characters.
Back off, world, they’re coming through like a knife through butter. Ambition is a fun character trait, in that it can be a strength (persistence!) or a weakness (selfishness!) depending on how heavily you lean into it. These characters have motivation built-in, which is nice from a writing standpoint. They’re your Draco Malfoy, Katniss Everdeen, Anne Shirley (she balances out her ambition with sweetness), Celaena Sardothian (Throne of Glass series) characters.
On the other end of the trait scale there are your stalwart companions who think of everyone else before themselves. They are the prop and support for their more ambitious, ruthless friends, sowing caring and kindness. I like to think of them as the emotional-support Hufflepuff to their colder Ravenclaw, self-centered Slytherin, or brash Gryffindor friends. They are your Samwise Gamgee, Peeta Mellark (Hunger Games), Dr. Watson (Sherlock), Jane Bennet, or Arya Stark (okay Arya works for morally grey, sarcastic, and ambitious as well).
Some further resources for character creation: