Incorporating ethnicities into a character
by Meg Gingie
While creating a character, you’re faced with several questions about it: What gender should they be? What should they look like? What should their names be? What background do they come from? Nearly all of those questions fall under what ethnicity/ies your character is/are. Going deeper into a character’s history makes it more tangible to other readers and much more interesting for them to read about and relate to.
Where your character comes from gives a lot of influence on it. He or She may come from across the world, or out of this world, and carry their culture with them. An interesting example is religion, where a character can be fully into the concept of monotheism (Belief of one god) or polytheism (Belief of many gods). They could intermingle with the idea of being damned or blessed by higher powers. It’s fun to play with to find one that suits your character’s culture. Of course, you may have to do a bit of research, but that’s all part of the pleasure, huh?
Another is the customs and traditions passed down, which you can shift around with. It slides into their attitude and mannerism towards the world, where they were brought up, what they were taught, etc… An example is a character that grew up a thief and beggar in a busy, dirty city might have a bleaker outlook on life than its high-class, coddled rival. They might even have an odd habit: biting their nails, a comfort object, a weird pet, or jewelery or a marking of sorts. Example: if they’re Christian, they could have a cross around their neck.
Looks and names also tie into race, which, in addition, flows into part of tradition. A full Irish family may give their offspring common Irish names, or a full Italian may do likewise. Sometimes a character comes from several difference races, and thus it gives you the chance to elaborate more on them and their style. Finding out the meanings of names can help and give a little insight to a complicated life.
Filling out all these can make your character seem more real, and have loads of fun in the process playing around to make them, well, them. Their own habits and looks and secrets for others to slowly find out about and reveal the full person will be on full display and further interest and draw the readers in once they’re hooked.