4 Online Resources To Help You Create Your Original Characters

4 Online Resources To Help You Create Your Original Characters

The secret to taking your characters from the second dimension to the third.
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As a fiction writer, one of the issues I seem to run into most often is not fully knowing the characters I create. Even when I think a character is fully developed, I find that I've passed over things like their past or the way they think or speak. To help both myself and other writers keep track of their characters, here are four online resources I've found helpful in writing fiction.

1. Charahub

One of the first steps to creating a story is coming up with your cast of characters, which is exactly what Charahub is made for. The site creates a map of the characters in your story and allows you to make a profile for each one, filled with the details of the character, from the deadly sin you believe represents them best to their opinions on love to their least favorite color. Some of the questions may seem unrelated or silly, but they force you to think about your character and every piece of their personality so that they can become real for you and your reader. If the question is something a person in the real world would be able to answer, it is something your character should be able to confront, too.

2. The "Mary Sue" Test

Now that you've answer the question of who this character is, you've got to figure out if the character you've created is as three-dimensional as you hope they are. One of the most common mistakes in writing original characters is allowing them to become a "Mary Sue," AKA a character who is not believable because of the way they are treated by their author, especially one that is created for readers to "admire, envy, or pity rather than empathize with." This test on Springhole.net allows you to run through a list of common traits in Mary Sue characters and check off all that apply to your creation. The test is extremely detailed and fairly lengthy, but if you want to make sure your character has been well-made, you should take part one, two, and five. Not every point on the list is something I would consider an aspect that makes a character flat, but when you begin to take note of all of the slight flaws piling up, it's easier to clean them from your character and make sure to avoid them in the future.

3. Celtx

Celtx is actually a website meant to be used for writing scripts, but it can be extremely helpful in developing the way your character speaks. It is far too easy to fall into a style of dialogue and make every character sound the same, even if they are each completely different people after going through the past two modes of character development. Celtx automatically formats dialogue into a script format, so you're able to write dialogue heavy scenes or just create dialogues as practice until you understand each character's voice without having to worry about anything but the dialogue. Your character's voice and tone are extremely important to their personality and how they come across, so using a program like Celtx to create a screenplay or script for a scene so that you can really develop the way the characters talk can help you make sure the traits you created for them in your planning process actually make it onto the page.

4. Pinterest

At this point, basically everyone has heard of Pinterest, though not normally in the context that most writers tend to use it. For most, Pinterest is used as a source of inspiration, whether that is through DIYs, quotes, art, or photography, but writers have begun to take the latter in order to create boards dedicated entirely to their original characters. Some use it to collect images of people who match their character's physical description or quotes that inform the way they depict them, but one of the best uses I've found to fully create a character is to create a board that matches the tone and aesthetic of the character. Following photography and aesthetic based users--normally those who are either writers themselves or who create boards for fictional characters that already exist--will fill your dashboard with images to help you establish your character's personality based entirely on visuals. Some boards are comprised of pictures like dark swimming pools and melting popsicles while others are filled with the likes of pale pink Tamagotchis and silver knives. Writers take any image that reminds them of their character in any way, shape, or form and create an entire page dedicated to them, which really helps in understanding a character in a way similar to the way Charahub does. You are able to see the little details about a character when you are able to look at a photo of a bundle of red feathers and connect it to their name.

You can use every one of these resources or just one, but I can tell you from experience that each one of them will help you develop your character until they are as fully recognizable as someone you could meet in real life.

Cover Image Credit: Art by Berke

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.

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Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

Personally, as an Art History minor, art has been a dimension of life for me that I have explored deeply and holds a lot of meaning. Painting is a huge outlet and way to deal with stress for me, and appreciating fine art teaches me about the aspect of history and how all of history is tied together throughout paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It helps me center myself and remind me of the place I hold in this world and the curious aspect personal experience of history. However, art doesn't need to be the stereotypical idea of art: it can be expressed through dance, the learning of a new language, or the coloring of mandalas to ease stress.

The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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