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Making characters: a thought process.

Haven't done one of these in a while. This time though, instead of a ramble about a particular character of mine, I thought I'd write out how I build my characters, to understand them a bit.

The hardest part of making characters is giving them all the details and peculiarities they need to make them feel alive. I have over 200 characters I've pounded out in fair detail, and probably 300-400 in total, most of which are not polished.

Because of this, and because of the frequency of which I create new series or worlds, none of my characters, even ones I've worked on for years, are completely finished.

When people ask my advice about how to make a character, or how I come up with characters, my response varies depending on what they're trying to know or understand. But for those who ask seeking guidance for making their own characters, I would say be a narcissist. Take some time to pay attention to every single fucking thing about yourself. Not just your habits or daily routines, but the entire structure of your life, mind and body. How do you sleep? What are you more likely to wear? What part of your body do you most touch at random? How do you position your limbs when moving or at rest? What weird behaviors do you divulge or exhibit at given times or situations? How do you approach activities, be they recreational or work related? What are you most likely to do or go for, what draws your attention in a store or setting?

What are you most likely to think about? What do you spend most of your time thinking about? What patterns of thought do you display, how do you take in information? How complicated or simple of subjects do you prefer to indulge?

These things that make up you as a person are the best way to create a character. Take ten very unique and personal things about you and ask yourself if your character has ten of their own. Obviously when making a character a lot of things can be glossed over. You don't have to show every single tiny detail of what makes up a machine to know how it runs or what it does.

A lot of my characters spend a lot of their time being self-indulged. Their greatest enemies in whatever series they're in aren't usually the bad guys they're fighting against, but themselves. I prefer my characters to have a lot of inward struggles they cope with every day. Past traumas, personal issues, struggles with ails or surroundings; where the hardest thing they have to overcome is their own shortcomings.

Designs are also hard. The more characters you have the more you need to be able to tell them apart, and unfortunately I don't have a style like some that incorporates unique facial features and body structures, though I am practicing to learn to do so. Modern characters, male or female, make that especially difficult because I have a rather bizarre style for clothes that you definitely wouldn't randomly see on the street.

I have I lot of things I repeat in designs as well, like a love of earrings, where practically all of my (major) characters have their ears pierced, and wear multiple earrings. I like certain shapes and cuts that I don't limit to genders, especially ones that display bone structures I'm fond of, like the shoulders and back, the collar. I like to accentuate the waist and hips, but prefer baggy pants to skinny, which makes that hard to draw. I really like the throat, and fight between leaving it open for display or decorating it somehow.

I don't believe in basing personality on gender, because personalities don't have genders, so I build them based solely on what I want the character for, not just what they do or are. The hardest characters are those with limited appearances or mindsets, because the scope of things they experience outwardly is small, so you're always guessing how they would react to something beyond their norm, like my characters the Prototype, who is usually only seen in passing, or the Crazed, who basically behave like animals though they possess great intellect and are simply locked in their current states.

My love of building characters usually brings me great frustration, because there are just so many, and a lot of them I have no idea what to do with after their creation, what kind of story to build around them. Sometimes it's easy, because the idea that created them was based around what I wanted them to do. Others were simply built off traits I liked and decided to make into a character.

In the end, I guess, a lot of them are left with nothing to do and no where to go other than to sit in my head and keep me company, but it doesn't make me love them any less.