Using Symbolism with the Character

Give the character personality or traits that have symbolic elements. Many symbolic elements are very easy to relate to. If you use appropriate symbols, your audience will get quick clues to a character’s personality. For example, if a halo is put over a character’s head, assumptions can be made, whether right or wrong, about the character.

The symbolism may be public and easily recognized by many people, or it may be private and have meaning only to you, the creator. Many books that list different symbols and their meanings are available. Some symbols are timeless, while others are more contemporary. Examples of some things with symbolic meaning are white doves, bats, black cats, gold, lead, the planets, and astrological symbols.

Building the Character around a Myth

Build your character around a myth, or create a myth around your character. Mythologize your character. The human race has so many different myths and legends that it’s easy—and to a degree smart—to use them as a basis for your characters because a mythical character’s history is already so well defined. The character Dracula has become such a strong cultural symbol of the myth that designing a “new” Dracula would take a lot of work to break the visual mold.


Just as a snowball gains size and speed as it rolls down a hill, snowballing an idea can help it gain momentum and size. Snowballing is simply adding more and more wacky notions to a developing idea. Use snowballing in conjunction with brainstorming, fantasy, wordplay, or just about any other idea-creating exercise.

Visiting Special Places for Inspiration

Visit the zoo. Some of the best ideas can come when you watch the animals as well as the people. Figure 3.2 shows an unusual character based on someone seen at the zoo. Along these same lines, go and spend the day at the local airport with a sketchbook. You will be amazed by the amount of inspiration that walks by.

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