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What do you start with when creating a character?

When I make an OC, the first thing I do is decide a name(usually using the amazing search engine called Google). Then, by using their name, I image what a person with that name would look like. It's quite fun, and I *might* take more time than needed by just switching out traits in my brain. From then on I start on their careers, and from the careers I go on to to personality. And then, I continue on towards family, and everything else!


So pretty self explanatory question in the title, but also, how much is too much info on a character?

I always start with their brains, I determine how happy/sad they are, what their goals are, how they view and interact with the world around them. After that I move onto the superficial things, likes and dislikes, their faces, their names etc.,

I feel like I can never stop developing a character, which is why I wondered how much is "too much" for other writers. I feel like I treat my characters as if they were living things that are always changing and growing... so I never really "stunt" their growth by stopping their stories.

So yeah. Let me know what y'alls think c:
Normally I’ll start off by deciding what their importance in the story might be- their role. I’ll build off of that, adding whatever abilities or quirks (bnha fans i see you), then going to personalities and the way they react around people, and I’ll play around with some physical designs for a bit later on. Names are always a pain, tho. Names are what kill me.


If there is a specific plot and Im basing the character on it then I start with the name.
When Im just creating characters on my free time, I usually start off with a concept or idea I like (for example a blonde beauty gamer or a preppy goth).
But honestly? Start anywhere, as long as you have something- anything, you can build off it.


Active Member
I generally just focus on what concept I have in mind and meld them around that. Generally concept influences personality or vice versa.


Chooser of the Slain
It's weird for me. If it's a random character I want to throw to the wind for an RP, I tend to start off with personality, then name and gender, then looks, then background.
If I'm creating for an RP someone else has offered, it's name and gender, personality, looks, and background.


I usually start with their core personality - sweet and gentle or fierce and spicy? Introverted or extroverted? Are they someone who likes to be liked or someone who wants to argue? Spontaneous or voice of reason? At the same time I piece together their background, because that's always something that affects who a person is.

I don't like to overthink their personality though, because the character always takes on new dimensions and develops overtime once they're in the roleplay. After I have the core of who they are as a person figured out, I move on to appearance and then name - it's what usually takes the longest for me to decide, because I want to give my characters names that fit the character and usually have some kind of a meaning behind it.


How I create a character can depend on if they are for a role play or a personal story. If I'm creating a character for a role play and I'm needed to fill a particular role then I'll start there. Otherwise, given free reign my general approach doesn't really change between the two. I like to start out with their goals and motivations because without those then you have no story and without a story you don't have any need for characters. I feel like knowing a person's goals and motivations teaches me more about them than their looks or abilities ever could.

One of my favorite character building counsels comes from A Field Guide to Writing Fiction where author A.B. Guthrie Jr. talks about his own experience in creating the character of Brother Weatherby in The Way West in which his original intention was to create a simple preacher character whom he could mock but instead he came to admire him the way he came to admire the real-life figure he was inspired by.

"It is not the business of the novelist to burlesque characters. If they are funny, let them be funny in their own way, not by authorial manipulation or exaggeration. ... To make a travesty out of a character is to present no character at all."

After determining the 'whats' and 'whys' of their goals and motivations, I like to make a list of questions with the goal of always knowing more about my character than the reader does (even if that just means inconsequential info such as their favorite color). When it comes to role play characters, I'm not a fan of your standard profile. I feel like it only detaches people from them by breaking the character down into a list of attributes and abilities. They are practical so I get why people like to use them so when I do, I try my best to avoid the standard ASL breakdown and try for a more personal touch such as using journal entries. I once created an outlaw character and presented his profile in the form of a wanted poster.

I think some of my best characters are born by accident and by the time some of them make it to the proverbial paper, they're not even the same character from their conception. With that said, there are a lot of "writing rules" out there that have an exception or two attached to them and I think that's for the best. You do you. As long as you keep an open mind and are willing to try new ways from time to time, then just keep doing what works best for you.
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For me it’s probably their backstory, a childhood filled with pain or abuse can really shape someone’s personality. Then I create their personality based off of that backstory. Following that I make their appearance and name.

Sometimes I can work backwards though, I can craft a backstory based off of their personality. I have more difficulty with appearances to backstory, or name to backstory. Appearances can be deceiving, although I usually portray bigger and tougher looking characters as the most emotional.

I have an obsession with taking apart character preconceptions. I love creating tougher girls and boys that are more caring.

All of this is connected by one strand all my characters have, they all have demons. A parents dying backstory can lead to a character who feels guilty about their parents dying. An abusive backstory can lead to a character who has layers, a character who acts all tough and brave but on the inside they’re crying out desperately for help. Maybe they’re just lonely, maybe they hate themselves, whatever the reason everyone I make seems to have demons.


New Member
usually when i start , I start with a name then go onto a picture for the name, also a outfit then a background fact like ethnicity and some facts

and then i give he/ she a occupation


I tend to go for the overall feel of the character. Then I find little nuggets and small things that people can look up and draw lines to because I like doing it as well(name alternate meanings, color scheme meanings, what their favorite color says about them). Then I proceed with building them from the ground up.


Many times, I start with a feeling. Sounds weird to write it out like that, but I kind of feel who they are, then I often find some kind of image that represents them. That, or the picture is the last thing to come into being. Then they slowly come into being as I develop them. Some characters are very open and tell me everything right off the bat, but other characters don't like to share, and it might take me an entire RP to learn who they are. And yes, characters are people to me. It's strange. :)


Doing our best
I usually start with one of these four things and go from there:
- a face-claim
- a 'feeling', especially if I have a goal in mind (that's the best way to put it @Treasure )
- random traits/background info
- a name


Destroyer of Dreams
I usually play in joke RPs, so I tend to start with a stereotype that I want to make a caricature of.


.°•. When rain shall fall & wings shall fly .•°.
Instead of the characters, I usually create an idea of a some sort of super ability / power down to the small details before moving on to creating a cool name that is parallel with my taste. Only then I would put the real effort into the other details. I would then lastly think of the backstory only when required because compared to superpowers, I am dry on ideas relating to backstories.


Art is in the eye of the beholder.
I usually start with a face, move onto a personality based off of the type of apparel I use, design a backstory and roll on into character build up! Huzzah!!
Call a whambulance!


Forest Faerie
Staff Member on Hiatus
I like to start with my character's names. Only because, once I sort out what name to use the looks fall into place. I think that as long as you can stay committed to the character profile you use and their style/ personality then there is never too much.


New Member
All of my characters typically start out as blank slates. I choose a particular personality type, race, look and then kinda' just throw 'em out there. I let the roleplay develop them a little more, and come up with their backstory as it's needed. This is because most of my characters usually start out as NPC's that are interacted with by the players XD I never set out to make a full-on character, it just happens! I find it much easier then coming up with a backstory, and just using a concept then developing with the flow of the story. Keeping them dynamic.

I suppose if I ever were to start making an actual PC again, I'd go with starting with the entire concept behind them. Like if they're a travelling bard that charms the lasses, or if they're some sort of mercenary. Perhaps even just the young man that lives at home with their parents trying to save up to move out. If I come up with the general theme, everything else just comes naturally to me on the spot.

Edit: I'm aware that this doesn't really work for everyone, but... A lot of people I know tend to overcomplicate it, and when you get down to it character making isn't that difficult. You just have to know what your character needs to accomplish, and everything fits into place. Sorry if this doesn't help!