Designer Characters.

Posted: November 13, 2011 in Writing
Tags: ,

As I set out to start my second work of genius (They say that positive thinking aids in success) I started where I always do, with the main character. Instead of going into a long diatribe about character development and all, I am going to share with you a character sheet I developed. Nothing in it is novel or unique, but I feel it puts as many things in front of you as possible. Here is a brief rundown of the parts:

Character Name and age-  I don’t think you need help here, move on.

Character Level- I have three levels for a character. Primary, secondary and Primary-1. A Primary-1 character is someone that has a bit more importance to a story than a straight secondary character. It is someone who impacts the story in a major way. This is the hero’s sidekick or the bad guy’s main henchman. They are seen often and are key in pushing the story along.

Character Role- Is the character a villian or a roadblock? Are they there to aid the protagonist? How do they fit into the story?

I break up description into the literal and the figurative. The literal would read like the physical stats for a sports star. Height, weight, etc.  The figurative is the area for me to pre-work some of the “showing” of what the character looks like. This is the area where I put how the character comes across. Both of these areas also deal with some of the character’s mannerisms.

Social Aspects- This area deals with what the character is seen doing in the world. What organizations do they belong to? What charity events do they attend. Do they belong to a church or a cult? Maybe the character belongs to a model airplane club. You would be surprised how these details may be included in your story.

Emotional Aspects- This area is your chance to explore your character’s self-perception. Some of the best areas of your writing will come when the character’s view of herself is in direct opposition of how people perceive her. This social vs. emotional struggle makes for some great conflict.

Character History- I find that just jotting down some simple parts of a character’s past helps me a lot. Knowing the basics of tragedies, triumphs and major events can really round out  a character.

Motivations- What does this character want to achieve. What are his goals and dreams. This will tell you why he does what he does in the story. Without motivation there is no point in having the character. You don’t need to state every motivation in your manuscript, but if your characters have no motivations it will make it difficult to write them as complete and full characters.

The last part of the first page and the first page and the whole of the second is for the working of connections between characters. I give each character a number. At the beginning of my work I write the numbers that my charcacters are related to so that I can use the connections throughout. On the back side I do the same and then expand it by writing the details of the connection. This is particularly useful during the writing process when new characters are developed or as two characters come in contact with each other. By writing in the details I can be sure to keep them clearer throughout my story.

Well, there you have it. My custom made character sheet. Feel free to use it, but please give credit if you do. There are other sheets out there, but I feel that this one could help a lot of you out. Give it a try.Character Sheet

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