I like writing stories with large worlds, multiple plots and many characters. This presents a big challenge; how do readers remember a character that may not appear again for several chapters? I draw them, the process helps me expand their individualities and give them unique and memorable dimensions.
It’s easy for a writer to skip over describing their characters; they live in our heads so we are already very close to them. The reader however needs to build that connection up, sure they will embellish themselves, but you need to seed some of that persona.
It’s a long process too, each time a character makes an appearance in your story it is a chance for you to layer up their personality and traits. You can’t front load too much of that description otherwise you will overload the reader and they quickly forget.
The next step is to think how you want them to change over the course of your story. What challenges are they going to overcome or slippery slopes that are going to change their personality or outlook over time?
Writing a novel can take a long time and it is important to be able to quickly remind yourself what traits a particular character has without having to riffle through pages and pages of words. Creating character profiles can save you huge amounts of time, prevent you from creating inconsistencies and really help you build upon their individual journeys. I store them on my phone
I also collect images that I feel relate to that characters persona, a quick Google Images search using some of your descriptive words can very quickly help build a mood board for each of the lives embedded in your story.
Once I have a strong understanding of a character I sketch him or her, it doesn’t matter if you don’t think you can draw, you don’t have to show anyone else! And everyone can draw by the way; stick men can be very informative. Drawing your character will allow the creativity in you to thrive; you will suddenly discover new aspects, unique traits, finer details that you can then work back into your story and will help your readers engage with them.