Building characters in a story is like creating your own Frankenstein

030-gene-wilder“It’s alive! Alive!” These are the famous words from a classic science fiction movie and an 80’s movie theme song. Though it meant the creation of both a terrifying monster and a geek’s wet dream, the  word we’re looking for here is “creation”. Creating characters within a story is a detailed process for writers. You not only need to be able to describe the appearance of these fictional creations to give the readers something to imagine, but you need a personality, a morality code, even sexual orientation. It’s a challenge for any new author.

Within any given story are hundreds of characters. Sure, not everyone is accounted for, most are background players, but you do need to see them as part of the story. That’s why I like to compare writers to a movie director. We see the stories as their playing out, imagine and play out the story around each of these characters.

The hardest part is making these characters believable. The readers have to be able to see them as really people or creatures or aliens, etc. For example, Superman may be an alien from another world, but what makes him believable is his humanity, his humble upbringing on a farm in Kansas. He has powers above and beyond mortal man, but how he uses that power is what defines him.

I created my protagonist, Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh, based on my experiences as a U.S. Navy sailor. I didn’t model him after just one person, but on the many great men and women I served with. The core beliefs of honor, courage and commitment are at the heart of this character. Add to that the importance of family, friends and faith, and you have a solid foundation to work with.

One of the underlying issues with character creation is the comparison factor. Every character created today has some comparison attached to it. An underdog is another Rocky or a mobster is another Godfather or Tony Soprano. As a writer, you’re not trying to duplicate another character, but rather, be inspired by them. I found that family and friends make good role models for characters. I like to use their personalities, quarks, even appearance as the basis for my novels. They inspire me and motivate me, in the real world and in my fantasy world.

So “throw open the switches on the sonic oscillator and step up the reactor input three more points” to bring your characters to life. No matter who they are or what good or evil they intend, see them in your mind and put them in your story. That’s how writers become the literary version of God.


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

2 thoughts on “Building characters in a story is like creating your own Frankenstein

  1. L.M. Nelson says:

    Love this article. Creating good, believable characters is so crucial. Character creation is my favorite part of writing. I love getting into their heads and developing their distinct personalities.


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