Backer Character Creation

This morning the first backer built character for Book 2 was finalized.

For those of you who weren’t aware, backers of Renaissance Calling who pledged more than $100 got to build a character that would be included in Book 2 of the series. Twelve backers (two of whom did multiple-backings) are now creating fourteen characters.

Part of the reason for doing this was to give backers a reward for funding Renaissance Calling. And part of it was to hand off some of the burden of coming up with all the characters on my own.

Starting the Process: The Character Primer

I didn’t start with much of an idea of how to do, and certainly not any long term plan. I figured I would go with the flow, so to speak.

To start, I worked up a two page primer for the backers, to explain the particulars of Book 2, to give an idea of what I was looking for, and to explain the groups that most characters would fall into. I wanted to guide the backers into roles I knew I would have to fill, and avoid wacky characters that don’t fit into the story at all.

After that I figured it would be a back-and-forth to finish the character. With one done and several others being built, I’ve established the process more permanently. It has turned into a three-step process.

Step 1: Character Idea

The backer gives me a really basic idea of what their character is. What is interesting is that their responses will fall into one of two categories: either a character, or an impact.

Some backers have said, ‘I want a character who has this impact.’ One backer wants a character who teaches the Scientific method to the protagonist; another wants a character who reveals to the reader what the antagonists are like. From there, I build the character who will fit into the story the way they want.

Other backers have said, ‘I want this character.’ One backer wants a character who is interested in rebuilding medical technology; another wants one based off her son. In those cases, I figure out how the fit the character into the story.

Character Creation at work
Step 2: Character Framework.

Once I have the character idea, I build what I’m calling the Character Framework. It’s a three-part document that explains the plan for the character. Using the medical technology character for the examples, the three parts are:

  • Thoughts on the Character: What about the character needs to be true for the character to work
    • Example: The medical technology character is a civilian
  • Things that need to be decided: Additional options that the backer should decide on.
    • Example: The medical technology character can be from one of these three places
  • Scenes that the character will be involved in
    • Example: The medical technology character will be in a medical emergency scene

I spend several days going over this framework, building it up, rewriting, and repeating as necessary. Refining the ideas over and over again until the framework I send out is well founded. Ideally, I only need to get one response (answering the part two questions) from the backer to move on to the next step.

Step 3: Character Biography

The character biography is what it sounds like: given the answers to the Framework, I type up a biography that explains the character’s personality, appearance, history, and impact on the story. Even if a lot of the information doesn’t appear in the book, it does influence how the character will act and respond.

I have information bios for a lot of the characters already introduced; what I write here is more in depth, since I’m working with another person and I want to make sure we’re on the same page.

The backer can respond with any corrections or suggestions, and after approval, the character is ready.


So far, I’m enjoying the process. It’s fun to see how different people come up with their concepts. And the challenge of incorporating other people’s ideas into the story has been quite rewarding. There are still a number of characters to work on, but I can already see how Book 2 will be richer for their efforts.

Thanks for reading!