The Recipe for Creating Interesting Characters

  • A dash of happiness and joy blended with a half-cup of artsy-fartsy melancholy…
  • An insatiable urge to create something new kneaded into the dough of apathy and procrastination…
  • A hunger for sharing and creating beautiful art with the world chopped up and sprinkled into a hermit-esque lifestyle…

 Happy/sad + Hungry/full + Content/restless = An Interesting Artist

Artists are a complicated bunch, aren’t we?

These complexities of thoughts and feelings that are in opposition to one another form the basis of who we are and how we create. These same personality patterns also reveal a recipe that helps us create interesting characters in our creative works.

[012/365] 24th August 2011
Charlie Barker via Compfight
A fellow creative, Andy Black, succinctly expressed similar sentiments. In like fashion, I’ll air my oppositions for all to see a bit of who I am. If you desire to create interesting characters, this is a great exercise to make them multi-dimensional.

Here’s my recipe…

loves/likes • hates/dislikes

I love food • I dislike calories

I love work • I hate labor

I like to travel • I dislike traveling

I love people • I hate drama

Strengths • Weaknesses

I’m a leader  I’m impatient

I’m loving  I’m skeptical

I’m an artist  I’m a corporate sales trainer

I love creating  I get jealous of other creatives

Wants • Needs

I want to be my own boss  I need my day job

I want more time  I need to use the time I have

I want more money  My needs are all met

I want stuff I don’t need  I need stuff I don’t want (borrowed from Andy)


Question: What makes you multi-dimensional and how can you use these oppositional wants/needs/feelings to create more interesting characters?

[box options]My friend Andy Black is an author, designer and super cool guy. I borrowed stole the idea from this post on his blog. Go check it out![/box]


Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Daryl

    Artists are human, and humans are complex, because life is complex. Anyone who pretends to be simple is only foolin’. And anyone who thinks they are more simple, or more complex, than anyone else is only foolin’ too. Paradox is two sides of the same coin, always opposing, always balancing, each with it’s own face, and often arguing that it alone is the simple truth. Holding all parts of paradox is part of living wisely.

    • “Holing all parts of the paradox is part of living wisely.”

      You’re a central Pennsylvania sage! 😉

      Seriously Daryl… that’s rich! So very good.

      It’s nice to know I’m no bifurcated, just normal.

  • I love seeing your take on this idea. There are quite a few entries that would be very comfortable on my list:

    I love food • I dislike caloriesI love work• I hate laborI love people • I hate drama
    And thanks for the shout out!

    • Thanks for getting my creative flow going Andy!

  • I love this idea. – I hate that I didn’t come up with it.

    Seriously though, it’s such a simple idea, yet it so quickly it inspires. I can tell I’m going to be drawing from this thought process in the future. Thanks!

  • The beauty is definitely found in the tension.

  • A few on my list:

    As an introvert, I need time alone * I don’t like being alone
    I love to spontaneously create * I am an avid planner
    I love to travel * I hate traveling
    I love going to Europe * I hate flying