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  • Writer's pictureSarah Loutfi

How I Build Characters

I think a lot of thought is put into building characters and their backstory. There are a lot of different methods to think of putting the characters together, but the one I use personally is the '5 W's and How' method. I don't know if this is a formal method, but it's one I've always used when building stories, and I've found it works nicely for building characters as well. Here's how it works:

#1 - Where?

Where are they from? Where did they get their traits from? Where is the world you're building in the universe? Where are they going?

#2 - What?

What do they do? What influences their decisions? What does their journey look like? What 'superpower' do they have (this doesn't have to be a formal superpower... maybe they connect easily with people)? What do the clothes look like for your world (ie. what items do they need for day to day life/survival)? What gives the character drive? What makes this character interesting?

#3 - When?

What time period does this take place in (this will determine what technologies are available, etc)? When do they strike out on their own? When do their life circumstances change?

#4 - Why?

Why are we interested in this character? Why are they in the situation they are in? Why is this character important? Why is the characters setting important? Why are the antagonists/protagonists interested in this place and character?

#5 - Who?

Who is my character? Who made the character who they are? Who are the antagonists/antagonists? Who do they meet on their journey?

#6 - How?

How does the character become the protagonist/antagonist? How long have they been in the role they serve? How do they get around? How do they get motivated to take the journey? How do they live? How do they think? How do they feel about their situation?

These are the things I find help me move forward in constructing stories and I've found them to be very useful. Hope this helps someone else find their way in the story they tell!



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