Let’s talk more about characters, shall we? But before we do, Raelyn, I did find some software that lets you keep track of how much time you spend on a particular project. It’s called Toggl. It’s free but you can also upgrade to a paid, pro version. I downloaded it and have it on my desktop. For example, it let me know that yesterday I spent 1 hour, 24 minutes and 48 seconds working on a chapter and 1 hour, 2 minutes and 53 seconds on NaNo stuff. Of course, I have to remember to turn it on to keep track of stuff, but I think it will be really helpful. Especially during NaNo.
Ok, characters. Some of the attributes all characters, especially major characters, should have are flaws and strengths. Basically, flaws are what keeps a character from growing, if you’re dealing with internal conflict, and from achieving their goal, if you’re dealing with external conflicts. Strengths are what can help the character achieve their goals.
Below are a list of flaws and strengths that you might find useful for your characters. I’ve also included an article by Jami Gold on Character Strength and Flaws.
Are you familiar with personality types? If you’re not, this site can be helpful. If you are, but have never thought about using them to create characters, you should consider it. I find personality types really helpful when creating characters.
Need a name for your character? Seventh Sanctum, as usual, has a lot of great name generators. Whether you just need a regular name like, for example, Molly Katy Russell, or you need a Vampire, Elf, Goblin or Evil-Sounding name, you can generate some fairly quickly here.
Have a name but want to know what it means? Behind the Name can help you with that.
Your character needs some way to make a living. At this site, Mithriland Mages, you can generate modern occupations by selecting first an industry and then a subindustry. The website will generate a list of possible occupations.
So, for example, let’s say I want my character to work in some kind of legal occupation. I select industry, “Legal Occupations”. Next I select the subindustry, “Paralegal and Legal Assistance.” The following jobs are generated:
- Assistant Paralegal
- Legal Aide
- Legal Assistant
- Summer Associate
- Summer Law Clerk
Now, if I want to learn more about these occupations, I go over to the Occupational Outlook Handbook – This is a great resource if you want to learn more about a particular job your characters has.
If I search for “legal assistant” this comes up. Paralegal and Legal Assistants, which tells me what the median pay is (helpful if want I want to know what kind of lifestyle my character can lead), entry level degree, what they do (which is really important so that you’ll know what they’re doing at work). For example a legal assistant does the following:
- Investigate the facts of a case
- Conduct research on relevant laws, regulations, and legal articles
- Organize and present the information
- Keep information related to cases or transactions in computer databases
- Write reports to help lawyers prepare for trials
- Draft correspondence and other documents, such as contracts and mortgages
- Get affidavits and other formal statements that may be used as evidence in court
- Help lawyers during trials
You can even brainstorm off this list and ask yourself in what possible ways these duties could cause conflict in the story. Perhaps while organizing and presenting the facts of a case for the lawyer she works for, our legal-assistant heroine discovers that the lawyer has left out some pertinent information that could help their client, who just happens to be a famous used-to-be child actor but is now out an out of control adult-actor with some serious anger management issues. Why would the lawyer do this, she wonders and, of course, because she’s our heroine, she decides to find out and, whoa, finds herself in a world of trouble.
Hope these are of help. Feel free to share any tools, tips or techniques you have regarding character creation.