Meaning of name:
Origin of name:
Socioeconomic level as a child:
Socioeconomic level as an adult:
Describe their dwelling/house:
Most important childhood event that still affects him/her:
Other memories/events that still affects him/her:
Past failures s/he would be embarrassed to have people know about:
Biggest role model:
Biggest disillusions from childhood:
Describe their smile:
How does s/he dress:
Are they generally balanced or clumsy?
Describe their walk:
Describe their laugh:
Style (Elegant, shabby, etc):
Greatest Physical Flaw:
Best Physical Quality:
Intellectual/Mental/Personality Attributes and Attitudes
Character's long-term goals/desires in life:
Character's short-term goals/desires in life:
How self-confident is the character?
How does Character see him/herself?
How does Character believe s/he is perceived by others?
How does Character express themself?
Is this character generally dominant or submissive?
Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof?
Most at ease when:
Ill at ease when:
Describe their sense of humor:
If granted one wish, what would it be?
If they could be described with one of the seven virtues, which would it be?
If they could be described with one of the seven sins, which would it be?
Biggest Vulnerability (non physical):
Optimist or Pessimist:
Introvert or extrovert:
Character's darkest/deepest secret:
Relationships with others
Describe their first sexual experience (with whom, willingly or otherwise, etc):
What kind of person would s/he consider to be the perfect mate?
Is the character judgmental of others and how so?
How is s/he perceived by...
What happens to change this perception if at all?
What type of people does s/he like or associate with?
What type of people doesn’t s/he like or associate with?
What do family/friends like most about character?
What do family/friends like least about character?
Subject in school:
Subject in school:
Where does this character like to hang out?
Where is this character’s dream place to live?
Mode of transportation:
Most prized possession:
Describe character's sense of morals:
Describe character's etiquette:
How does this character act in public?
How does this character act at home?
How has this character most changed from childhood?
How have they remained the same?
How does this character deal with or react to:
What does this character think/feel about:
The opposite sex:
How does the character view life?
How does the character view death?
How does the character view society?
How does the character imagine his/her own death?
What does the character want out of life?
What would the character like to change in his/her life?
What motivates this character?
What discourages this character?
What makes this character happy?
What makes this character sad?
What makes this character angry?
What most describes this character's personality?
Psycho analysis (Describe why they act the way they do):
Does it stem from childhood or an event, or chemical?
What is this character all about (if they can be described with one word)?
Does the character believe in a god or goddess?
What are the character's spiritual beliefs?
Is religion or spirituality an important part of this character's life?
If so, what role does it play?
If this character were an animal, what would they be?
IF this character were the opposite sex what would they
If this character were to be characterized by an object, what would it be?
What song best fits this character?
If you could compare this character to an existing character, who would s/he be and why?
If you could choose an actor for this character, who would it be?
If you could choose a voice actor for this character, who would it be?
Who/what was your character inspired by?
What if? ...
How the Character is Involved in the Story
Character's role in the novel (main character? hero? Villain? etc):
Scene where character first appears:
Relationships with other characters:
Where, how and when did s/he first interact with other characters:
What was this character’s life like before something, if anything, happened to change it all:
How Character is different at the end of the novel from when the novel began:
Additional Notes on This Character:
Notes on creating effective characters
Motivation: When considering a character, always ask yourself ‘why’? Question your character’s motive for everything they do, think, or say. Delve into the psychology of your character. Don’t just make them ‘insane’ for no reason, or ‘just always happy,’ or anything that can‘t have backup. Every thing has a reason, and this should be relatively obvious to your readers, unless you mean to keep it a secret; but a good, solid character has depth. One creates depth through a deep understanding of their character’s past, psychology, and motives.
Stick to what you know: It’s hard to have a deep understanding for your character, if they have no basis in reality. It doesn’t mean you can’t have superheros or fantasy elements, but their traits and personality are still realistic. Even in an alternate universe, there is a state of consistency. Lack of consistency creates an unbalance and a poor foundation for your character, and they will be loose and shallow to the reader. A reader connects with a character when they can sympathize, or feel an emotion from them. Keep at least that much realistic in anything you do. In order to understand your character, you have to understand, or research them. Do you know enough about the period in which they were born, or their habitat? Do you know anything about their demographic, their race, their age? All of these things you must familiarize yourself with in reality before you attempt to recreate it in your story. It is the same with an artist; an artist can not learn to exaggerate reality before they learn to replicate it, at least to some extent.
Clichés, Stereotypes, and Archetypes: Clichés are not the same as archetypes or stereotypes, mind you, and to some extent these things are necessary for a story, however a cliché is never an important element. However, this does not mean that all clichés are bad. You can have a cliché storyline, but a diverse range of characters with depth and personality interesting enough to keep your reader into what you’re writing. Cliché characters, however, run the risk of becoming flat, and undeveloped. If you do not move beyond it, it will remain stagment, and thus hindering the potential of your story. Avoid them when you can, work around them when you have them. What is the difference, you ask? In my personal opinion, archetypes are ‘genres’ of stories or characters, a very basic and general ‘theme.’ These are hard to avoid. Archetypes of stories could include: love triangles, the classic Romeo and Juliet fate, jealousy, etc. These are things in which you base your story on, but build off of. Stereotypes are only acceptable in moderation. To some extent, you have to make a character believable. Certain fashions, dialects, and generally accepted truths about a stereotyped character might be necessary to get your point across. This is especially helpful for minor characters. Let’s say you have a bartender, who is in only one or two scenes. He needs no real development, as he only acts as a prop for your main characters to interact with. Go ahead with generalizing the character; the bowtie, the slicked back hair, calm and collected, usually the one to give a pick-me-up to the downtrodden. If you start going to the extreme opposite, and try to create the ’super unique, most original awesome character ever,’ or as I like to call it, the ’anti-stereotype,’ you run the risk of ’obviously trying too hard,’ which will come off to your reader as amateur. If he’s only a minor character, or someone in passing, don’t make the bartender “a midget, old woman with a beard, who’s lesbian for no reason, has wings, and speaks backwards in French.” That isn’t cute, it’s not clever, it’s not funny, it’s just stupid. Don’t try too hard to create something no one has ever seen, because you’ll inevitably fail. It doesn’t mean that you can’t create something original. Originality comes from making the particular character just unique enough from the others to stand out, however many aspects of this character probably have their inspirations from other sources. Don’t be afraid of that, but at the same time, don’t let your inspirations be all you draw from.
Conclusion: Most of all, keep practicing. Writing is like an art, no one is perfect the first time they start. No one creates masterpieces with their first works. Don’t bank all your money on one story, or one character. Continue to create, because you never know which one might be the big hit. Even when you have created something people like, don’t stop there. A true artist or writer is never pleased with their work. Continue to aspire to create more, create something new, and most of all, let your love of the hobby inspire you to never stop.