Last month on Dec 16th I talked about Plotstorming (character-driven plotting) here.
As promised, here are snippets of a character chart for example. Rarely do I fill out the entire thing. Fill out as little or as much as you want/need in order to know and round out your characters. I normally only do one of these for my hero and heroine. By all means add to the list if you please. LOL! To simplify things, “C” means “Character.”
Name______________ Age_____ Education _____________
(From here on out I am omitting the lines for brevity)
Pertinent past careers/training
Celebrity look-alike (if any)
Type of dress/style
Hair color and style
Eye color and shape
Other physical attributes/description/build/physique/body type
Height and weight
Physical limitation/scar/injury/disability (if any)
Pertinent background/backstory/Pertinent past events (good or bad)
Greatest accomplishment/achievment in their eyes
Traumatic events that have shaped them
Where they grew up
Where they live now
Family dynamics now
Children? # and background
Divorced, Single, Widow, Widower, Estranged (circle one)and why
Current view on relationships
Describe their current relationship with God
Belief system and struggle
Faith system and struggle
Personality type (A, B, Etc. Alpha, Beta, Theta, Etc.)
Archetype if any (ex. Chief, Bad boy, Charmer, Etc.)
Temperament (This can change by the end of the book with C growth.)
One-word adjective to describe C (most noble trait)
How friends/family would describe them
How they'd describe themselves
Vehicle they drive/ride/fly
Financial status/and how they manage and view money
Socioeconomic status/ and how they view it
Ever met hero/heroine prior. If so, how so?
Secondary C most important to main C
In addition, you'll want to know:
How H/h meet
What event/situation/plotpoint keeps throwing H/h together during book
What event/situation/plotpoint/character keeps them apart during book
Etc. Etc, Etc. and a gazillion other things. This character chart is literally PAGES long. This list is not conclusive because I don’t have two miles of space in which to type. LOL! This just examples the kinds of things that can go into a character chart SHOULD YOU DECIDE TO USE ONE. Many authors don’t. At times I don't fool with filling out any kind of chart if I'm on a tight deadline. So don’t feel bad if this method doesn’t work for you technique or time wise. Using these charts helped me to flesh out my characters better in the beginning. They also make filling out my Art Fact Sheet easier for my publisher when the time comes. The chart enables me to get the material to them expediently.
Don’t let filling out charts be a procrastination device or a substitution for ACTUAL WRITING. If you’re a panster, by all means, skip over all this nonsense and JUST WRITE. LOL.
Some people use Archetype examples, sketches or grids. Those things make my eyes cross as I’m sure this chart will make some of yours. LOL. I’m more of an instinct writer than anything else. This method works for me because I am a list person. Find what works for you.
Feel free to copy my character chart and tweak it to make it your own. Just delete my answers and fill yours in. If you use it, all I ask is that you give me credit.
For brevity’s sake I will post a copy of the specific character chart that I used for Pararescuer Ben’s story (Ready-made Family-available online now and will be in stores the month of April, 2009) in a future blog post. RMF is also the book I referenced in the Plotstorm post. I will also use this book to example the Scene Index in one of my upcoming posts. Probably February and March.
Links of other character chart variations for example:
JUST COPY AND PASTE THESE INTO YOUR BROWSER.
Note: many of those are copyrighted. If you post them somewhere, you must give the original author credit. Some, you need permission to reprint. Even if there’s no formal copyright. I respectfully ask that you give proper credit to the authors or site if you share these anywhere.
Excellent resource link containing a gazillion books on characterization:
Warning: some book titles may be offensive to young readers.
Okay, your turn.
• Writers, what do you have to know about your character prior to writing a book?
• Readers, what in your opinion (traits, etc) constitutes a memorable, likable hero or heroine?
• What book and movie heroes and heroines come to mind when you think of top-notch characters?
• What made them so?