One of my favourite parts of writing a novel, or really anything at all, is designing the characters. They are essential to the basic essence of a story, and provide the reader something to hook onto and follow as events progress. I love picturing their appearance, imagining their backgrounds, and living their lives as I write. It is with this in mind that I write this pose today. I am going to introduce one of my two main characters and attempt to describe how it was that she came about.
The conception of ‘The Unnaturals’ was so long ago that I cannot remember what came first, the character or the plot. What I do know however, is that Annaliese was one of the first, if not the first, character to be developed. So, I shall start with the name. At first I wanted her name to be made of up two other names, much like my own, to signify that she has lived in two very different worlds, so it began as Anna-Lisa. As I began working on other areas of the story however, I began to realise that such a name might not work as well as I hoped so I reduced the amount of syllables, got rid of the hyphen and turned it into Annaliese.
After that, I focused on the background and personality. The background I shall not go into too much detail of, as it is fairly important to the actual story. Her personality, however, is something I can go into. Essentially, Annaliese has a rebellious and reckless streak, often running into things without thinking. She is loyal to those who she cares about, but finds it easy to hate others. As well as that, she also as a powerful sense of self-preservation, and despite wanting to stand up for what she believes in, that sense can take over and lead her to do things she regrets in order to remain safe and alive. Her personality was, if I remember rightly, very quick to come to. It just fit.
In terms of her appearance, that came much later. While the appearances of some other characters came instantly, Annaliese took longer to form. I began to form her with this quick sketch in which I tried to get the basis for her face shape and structure. It was during this process that I determined that her hair would be slightly wavy, and her face shape more oval. The mouth went very wrong, but it did its job well enough in providing a basic design.
From this I began to work out the schematics of her other features. For this I began exploring what certain shapes and sizes were supposed to represent about personality. Annaliese is fairly rash, with little attention to detail but with a longing to help others, even if she may not go through with it. Because of this I gave her large, inset eyes. I did not stick to that policy for everything though, I though the lower eyebrows gave her a more determined look while her eyes are brown for the simple reason that I thought they would suit her better.
As in the original design, her nose is quite small at the tip which when ‘googled’ turned out to mean that she has fast reactions and rushes into thinks. Very apt. I smoothed down the lips from the quick sketch and made them slightly smaller to make it more realistic and to add some smoothness to her face. Annaliese is still young after all. I also made her hair loose, and made the waves gentler. Thus creating the image below, what Annaliese looks like currently and hopefully forever more. It is not a great painting, but I think it provides a good enough representation for referencing while writing.
And that is an abridged version of how I developed Annaliese. I will introduce some of my other characters soon, perhaps in a similar manner; I have yet to decide completely. In other news, I have finished part 2 of ‘The Unnaturals’, with over 30,000 words in the Camp Nanowrimo pot. The next part is from Annaliese’s point of view, which was the inspiration for this post. Fingers crossed it goes as well as I would like it to.