Yes, I still hate character charts. Yes, I still try to fill them out and get bored every time. And yes, I have officially found something even better than those 5 fun ways to develop your characters I wrote about a while ago.
And that, my friends, is making character mood boards.
Yes, you read that right. A mood board. For your characters. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. It’s just so fun, and I will often look at my character’s boards only to admire them.
And get this: it helps you flesh out your characters much like a character chart does (almost enough to make the process of filling them out bearable afterwards). Wow, I just can’t get enough.
So, without further ado, here’s how to make one.
1. Choose your platform.
Of course, you can’t make a mood board if you don’t know what you’re going to make it on, and there are a lot of options. You can use Pinterest, WeHeartIt, or even print out photos from Tumblr and paste them on a poster board or in a notebook!
For the sake of this tutorial, I’ll be using WeHeartIt! I find it’s the easiest and the most aesthetically appealing. You can also use this website on its app, which I find especially useful when I want to admire my boards in bed at 2 a.m.
(P.S. If you decide to use WeHeartIt too, don’t be alarmed at the girly-ness of the website! There are photos for just about anything on there if you look hard enough.)
2. Open a profile.
To make a board on these websites, you’re gonna need a profile. The process is pretty easy, and usually free!
3. Create a blank board, and name it after one of your characters for reference.
On WeHeartIt, they’re called “Collections,” and they’re super easy and addictive to make. I’ve even made mood boards for myself and my friends.
4. Have an idea of what your character is like.
Even just a vague idea is fine, but make sure you have something in mind before you start searching for photos to add to their board.
What do they look like? What kind of clothes do they wear? Where do they live? Where do they want to live? What do they like to do? What’s their personality like? What’s their favorite color? Their favorite food?
These are all important things to consider when making a board, but you don’t have to know it all right off the bat. I knew everything about my character Aiden before making his board and nothing about my other character Daniel, aside from his sexuality and ethnicity. And they’re both boards I deeply admire.
Here’s snippets of my characters Daniel, Maddie and Viv’s boards to give you an idea.
5. Start searching for photos!
This can be done a variety of different ways. You can search any number of terms related to your character: “blonde girl,” “soccer,” “cooking,” and look through the recent/popular posts or collections with those tags.
You can also search “OC,” which stands for original character, and look at collections with that in the title. This is my favorite thing to do, because most people have found much better photos than you could ever find just through the popular posts.
(Ex: Aiden is obsessed with comics. I searched far and wide, but couldn’t find any because all that was coming up when I searched “Spider-Man” was Tom Holland. Then, I ended up finding dozens of photos of comic books in other user’s OC boards!)
It’s also helpful to search “OC [defining characteristic]” such as “OC jock” or “OC cooking” because many people will also write descriptions of their characters in their collections.
The OC tag can also be searched on Pinterest 🙂
6. Add photos you like to your board!
Of course, if you find photos that suit your character and their personality/aesthetic, add them to your board. On WeHeartIt, this is done by first “heart”-ing the post and then choosing “add to collections.”
The best part about this process is that as you go along, you may find something that fits your character’s aesthetic that you never thought of before, and then you’ve just found their favorite food or a new hobby for them!
7. (Optional) Add a description to your board
As I go along in my mood board journey, I like to add aspects of my character to the description of the board, just so that I don’t forget and can have inspiration for them as I continue making the board.
For example, Aiden’s board says:
“18 | senior | ENFP
aries sun/aquarius moon/leo rising
best friend to Cooper; love interest to Maddie; goalie; rebel; irresponsible; comic books; drawing; parties; weed; slushies; makes bad jokes; sleeping; showers; pizza; mac and cheese; coffee; driving; foxes; wants to run away and never come back”
(Side note: Yes, I am one of those authors that procrastinates by deciding my characters’ signs and MBTI types.)
And there you have it!
You’ve created a mood board, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably get addicted to it. It’s just yet another way to write without actually writing, you know? But at least you’re doing something sort of productive.
To see my character mood boards in full (I have hundreds of photos on each of them, sigh.), you can find me on WeHeartIt as @stephclaires!
Thanks for reading! Have you created a mood board for your character? Let me know! And send me a link, I love looking at them.