Persona is a great little program for either Windows or Mac computers, making it simple to create characters for novels, plays, scripts or any writing project, for that matter. It is straightforward and easy to use. You simply fill in blanks with information such as name, height, age, hair and eye color. There are 16 preset archetypes for males and 16 for women, from good guys to bad gals. There is also a space to describe your characters' background. By knowing this information you can begin to know who you are writing about, and add more and more details.
Here are the results of my experimentation with the software. Remember, I started with nothing... not even an idea for a character.
I began with my bad guy. I decided to create him in a way that most people would be repulsed by his very presence. He got the name “Henry Bruciwitz.” Within the software there is a names section, with over 16,000 names suggested. I took Henry and Bruce and turned it into my characters name. I then made him an authoritarian tyrant. I also decided he drank too much and then wrote a little back story I created in my head.
Now I make my good guy “Butch Forrester” in the same fashion, giving Butch and Henry hobbies, ethnicity and occupations. I made the decision that they work together, Henry being Butch's boss.
Now it gets really fun because Persona has a tab that will describe, in great detail how your characters might behave together. Learn how they clash, how they mesh and how they might change as the story moves along.
Click the “Learn” tab to read about each archetype.
After creating my characters in Persona, I now had a pretty good understanding of each one. I set out to write a small paragraph of story with my guys interacting and here is the result:
“I run the show around here,” said Henry Bruciwitz as he flopped into his office chair. His hair was a mess and his glasses sat askew on his face. The smell of last night's wine emanates from his pores. Bruciwitz was a small man with a big chip on his shoulder and the booze only served to magnify his Napoleon Complex. It was 10:30 AM when he finally showed up for work. Butch Forrester, several inches taller, but lower on the totem pole of the office hierarchy, was the target of the day. Butch knew it was going to be a long one, dealing with his hungover boss, finalizing several projects and trying to appease an occasional, irate customer. The work had to be done and done right. It depressed Butch knowing he just wanted to do his job well, but got only grief from his angry and still inebriated superior.
I did all this in a few short minutes and you can too. Creating these characters by myself would have taken hours, but with the guidance and vault of information within Persona it took no time at all. Your characters don't need to be just human either. They might be animals, objects or food if you'd like. You are only limited by your imagination. You can click a different archetype and play around with characters by researching ways they may interact and change the story. Persona has a grouping system so you can gather your characters by whatever you'd like, such as ethnicity, hair color, jobs or use a keyword if you want.
Persona is available for immediate download or boxed editions at The Writers Store. It's very inexpensive, coming in at under 50 bucks. Persona character development software is a true timesaver for any writer who wants to build characters with depth, that your audience will relate to and want to know more about. Now I must get back to writing my story about Henry and Butch. I can't wait to learn how it turns out!
PROs - Easy to use. Large database of information on personality types. Fun to experiment with different traits. Files can be shared between Mac and Windows users. Very reasonable price
CONs – I would love to see more description boxes for traits such as voice, clothing, and things such as canes, walker or anything else you see them using. Maybe the user could add them as needed.
BOTTOM-LINE – A well designed software package that any writer would not regret purchasing.
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