I’m a visual learner. If I want to learn a new art technique, cooking skill, house repair, I look for videos and pictures to walk me through the steps. When I got serious about my writing I realized I could do the same for my characters.
I used Pinterest to work for me.
As I imagined my characters, I often got a “feeling” about them I would associate with a color. As I type that I realize it sounds a little crazy or confusing at the least. Cadmus Hall was the first character I created in my Dandelion series. When I pictured him, I often thought of the color green. Green is a calming color, it reminds me of the woods, being grounded to the world around us, of simplicity. Not only did I search for a photograph of a man I thought looked how I pictured Cadmus, but I also found shades of green that reminded me of him. From there I found quotes, artwork, pictures of cabins, all the things that reminded me of Cadmus. Creating Pinterest boards gives me a visual representation of my characters that I can reference often.
Don’t be scared to think outside the box when creating characters. These character files never need to see the light of day, use what makes sense to you.
I am also a big fan of using the Myers Briggs personality typing, enneagram typing, or even the zodiac to create characters. I use Pinterest with this as well. Once I decide what role and type my character will be I find visual mapping of it and pin it to their boards. When I first start writing them, before I know them completely, I can reference back, how would an ENFJ respond to fear? How does an ISTJ organize their life? What is the biggest pet peeve of an ESFP? Instead of reading over articles, I can quickly look for a pinned meme about it and go from there. After all, fiction is made up stories from our own heads, no two people are completely alike, we are given creative freedom.
The other reason I like using Pinterest is that it organizes my characters into one place that can always be with me. If I’m sitting in a waiting room, out running errands, or chatting with a friend, and have a thought about a character, I can pull my phone out and make a note of it in their board.
As I spend time creating the boards, curating them, spending time in them, I get a better picture of who these characters are as whole person. It is different from writing back story, from assigning roles or even figuring out their personality type. It is a visual representation of them. It’s like decorating their apartment. An interior designer will create a design board before they create a room, I think of this as the same thing. I’m creating a vision of who this person is and staying true to them throughout the story.