So how do you do that? Well, there’s no hard and fast rule as to where to start, but there is a rule as to what you finish with. Detail. You need to be observant in every day life – notice the people around you for starters. This is invaluable to helping you create every small aspect of the character. There are 4 main areas of characterisation – Physical, mental (personality), mannerisms (biting nails, nervous twitch) and background (job, family, friends, interests).
This is called building up a character profile. Creating a character profile for each of your main characters is very important for the character itself, but also for the continuity of the story. Continuity is where if you say your hero has blond hair then later on in the story when you mention the hair again you have to make sure that it is still blond!
Sex – male or female
Age – important that you know the exact age even if its never mentioned
Hair – colour, style, length, bald
Eyes – colour, glasses, contacts, blind
Body – thin, fat, stocky, athletic
Distinguishing marks – scars, squint, scruffy
Clothes plus significant items carried – be specific – blue jeans, grey fitted t-shirt, Nike trainers, NY baseball cap. Important items – does he have a mobile phone? Wallet? Pair of scissors? A compass? Whatever may be important to the story.
Where he grew up
Like and dislikes
Accent? Talk with a squeaky voice?
Does he talk with his hands?
Does he have a limp from an old war wound?