4 Odd But Effective Characterization Methods

4 Odd But Effective Characterization Methods

For the odd writer... who has a lot of characters
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You've got characters. They're your darling children. How long have you spent characterizing them, exactly? A few days? Three years? Somewhere between?

However long it's been, sometimes it feels like you've never done quite enough, especially when it comes to all the minuscule details the readers won't always get to see. (I mean, unless it's central to the plot, knowing a character's favorite food isn't always useful, but it's goshdarn fun to figure out).

If you're anything like me, you've spent time accumulating random facts about your characters and storing them in a variety of unorganized ways. I have Notepad documents, actual notes in notebooks, different variations of character profiles and even one document with a running list of character birthdays. None of these help terribly much, but they've had their use now and then.

Thus, today I'm going to share some odd but effective characterization methods that may not only unify your authorial objectives, but give you a really fun way to spend your writing time apart from the actual writing.

1. Create character Facebook profiles.

Ever wanted to be a secret agent? This is sorta similar.

It's been a while since I've done this one, but it was always quite beneficial. I create the FB page with the character's name and basic information, and then go about stylizing their profiles according to how they would if they ran the account. I usually end up using my own art for the avatar/cover photo (which is usually less than satisfying, but at least it gets the job done and prevents that one awkward stock-photo model from staring at you eternally). From there, I post and interact online as that character would.

Since nobody really knows it's a fictional account, it can sometimes lead to really confusing conversations, but hey, if you're conducting the research and getting the information you need, it's highly worth it. Additionally, feel free to use any other social media accounts you wish. (I've always wanted to create a character Pinterest...)

2. Utilize organizational programs/websites.

First recommendation: Scrivener. I can't say I use this regularly, but I had a free trial and discovered its insane depth and myriad of uses. You can label, arrange and rearrange documents to your heart's desire. Plus, you can write directly into the program and have multiple windows and note-boards open simultaneously for max productivity. Characterization possibilities are nearly endless.

I've also recently started using Notebook.ai, which is one of the most visually-pleasing and writer-based online platforms I've ever discovered. Start worldbuilding from the top down by starting with Universes and working down to Locations, Civilizations, Characters, Items, etc... Better yet, you can set everything to private, and even interact on discussion boards.

3. Create a character-centric Spotify playlist.

Music is one of the single most inspiring mediums ever created. You, as a writer, should use it to your advantage.

If you use Spotify (it's free, with ads), you can create playlists with your favorite music pertaining to the "mood" of a particular character or story. Spotify will suggest similar songs for you to browse, and, once a week, will create a mixtape specifically for you. So if you're anything like me and are always on the hunt for new tunes, use Spotify.

Par exemple, here are a couple playlists I've put together:

Cyberdroid Supplements is for my science fiction novel, Blue 15 (an additional playlist to my main one).

For Wendigo is for a short story I submitted to a contest (which ended up being 15,000+ words, partially thanks to the mood I was able to cultivate with these songs).

4. Set up RP chats.

Roleplay is a jump-right-in approach to characterization. My best friend and I instant-message all the time, and we've been RP'ing with characters since we first started writing. Bringing in the "noobs" has always been a low-pressure way to flesh out preliminary details. This works especially well if you bring in already-established characters as sounding boards. Throw a quick challenge at them, see how they react and then use this information to your advantage. If you're into breaking the fourth wall in-RP, even better. Let the character interact out-of-universe for additional development.

As if that wasn't fun enough, you get to hang out with your writer friends. This isn't just a time to get help--you can give help, as well.


These are just four out of potentially hundreds of alternative ways to characterize your babies. It's okay not to always rely on freewriting or note-taking alone. Use your imagination to aid your imagination. Writers have no limits.

Cover Image Credit: Leeroy

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