1. samueg
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    samueg New Member

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    Best character development chart ever!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by samueg, Jun 30, 2009.

    I have found the ultimate character development sheet. It is so precise and goes right down into it. Please check it out and if you think you have one that is better please, go ahead, put it down here! Enjoy! Please also say what you thought of it and hwo to improve it.

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    WEBSITE: www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html
    Luke.D.M. likes this.
  2. Unit7
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    Unit7 New Member Contributor

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    wow that is thorough.

    Been looking for a real good character spread sheet thing.
  3. Show
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    That's a nice sheet. I guess it could be a fun thing to do one day. Any virtual one to fill in so you don't have to print it out?
  4. Martha W
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    Martha W New Member

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    Show: if you download and save to your pc (at least the rtf version) you can edit, save, etc. so you can keep a digital copy instead of the paper version.:) I tried it make sure since when you open the file it says (Read Only).
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Have I mentioned once or twice how utterly useless I think character profile sheets are?

    Characters are dynamic, constantly changing. I like spontaneity and growth in my characters, not cookie cutter clones.

    Character sheets contain and constrain your characters. Instead, get to know them the same way you get to know real people - by seeing how they look and behave in action.
  6. Show
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    I guess I could try it. But for the reasons stated in the post below, I guess I'll do it with a character in my serial, since it's finished.

    I see where you're coming from. I guess filling in parts of it can be useful, such as the parts about the character's past(which unless it's a time traveling story, don't change), and features. But I see what you're saying about how they grow.
  7. Unit7
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    Unit7 New Member Contributor

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    I think it depends how you use them. You could fill out multiple ones. Changing the details in different stages of the story. Depending on the situation, and how the character deals with it, the details could drasticaly change. Of course certain details would always remain the same.

    In a longer work of fiction it would be helpful to have a quick reference of how the character has changed and go a step further to fill in why they changed.

    Just a thought.
  8. kittycatthunder
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    kittycatthunder New Member

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    I think these spreadsheets are helpful because they can help spark all kinds of ideas. I also think they are great for beginner writers who need to think about things they would otherwise overlook. Thanks for posting it!
  9. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan New Member

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    Character spreadsheets should be used, but with caution, similar to outlines. They're a good place to start off on, but they can not be absolute.
  10. Martha W
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    Martha W New Member

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    Yep, totally with you on this one. I like to use them for starting the character but mine end up changing as my story unfolds. For instance, the story I am doing currently has a lead that originally started out strong, knowing who she it but by page 5 she had insecurity issues and more fun stuff than I can list...:D

    It's all good, though!
  11. Show
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    I think ones that long are intimidating. IMO, the best charts focus on the character's appearance and past. A lot of the things that asks for don't seem too relevant or they could change too easily.
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    One problem with character sheets is that they tend to be biased toward a particular setting.

    But to me, the far worse aspect of them is that they encourage the writer to nail down too much of the character in advance. Once you lock down an attribute, it becomes harder to change to suit the needs of the story.

    Keep your characters loose and flexible. You don't need to predetermine every dimension of a character before you begin. I don't WANT to know the character that intimately from the outset!

    Why cast your character in cement, especially defining charactersitics you have no use for in a story? Leave more of your character open-ended, and let your readers fill in the hazy places to suit their own imaginations and fantasues. The more you embellish the character with unnecessary details, the greater the temptation to force feed those carefully chosen details to your readers.

    In my opinion, character sheets are not harmless. They encourage an obsession with detail that will make your writing stiff and unyielding.
  13. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor New Member

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    I did those survey things to kill time on Myspace years ago, I don't use them to make characters. They make everything too restricted, too plastic. You don't know everything about a person when you meet them, so why should you do this?
  14. starseed
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    starseed New Member

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    Haha I love you dude. Every time I'm going to post something you took the words right out of my mouth. I was going to say, I filled out a chart just like this for all my characters before I started my novel. I printed them all out and I think I looked at them ONCE since writing, and now, the characters don't even vaguely resemble the characters on those charts. After writing with the characters for a bit, I realized that I couldn't just create them in the beginning and then write the story. The story showed ME who the characters were, not the other way around.
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I think there are certain things you should know about your character before you start writing, like their religion, schooling, significant past events that make them who they are today, how they dress, how they live, if they are negative or positive and when and why, etc.

    His religious beliefs could change how he reacts to someone's words or actions, and if you don't know his religion, he will not act properly. If you don't find out your character is a church going Pentecostal until halfway into the story, you will, or should go back and rewrite the first half so the character reacts to everything how a Pentecostal would react.
  16. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Member

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    I'm not usually one for character outlines, for most of the reasons Cog mentioned, but this one has proved useful, to me, as an exercise in reviewing my knowledge of my mc after the fact. It gave me an opportunity to get a handle on just how much I knew (and didn't!) about the characters I'd already created. Useful in that respect.
  17. nativesodlier
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    nativesodlier New Member

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    I like outlines to some extent. They help me keep the characters attributes a little more straight so i don't accidentally have him do something that would contradict his personality unless it was intended.
  18. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund New Member

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    I don't use character sheets, myself. As I see it, whatever information I can't keep in my head or condense into a few short notes isn't worth bothering about anyway.
  19. Irish87
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    Irish87 New Member

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    Beyond the basics of any character, such as age and specific dates, I've never been a massive fan of writing long, drawn out biographies covering every inch of a characters life. I don't want to know everything about him/her, especially if I'm planning on changing him. But to each his own. Anyone who does like to write all this stuff is in luck with this site, though.
  20. TigerTip
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    TigerTip New Member

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    I think this only applies to how you like to write, and all writers have different methods.

    For example, I believe the exact opposite. I think that realistically, changes in characters are subtle, and certain character traits stick around for a long time, if not for ever. Therefore the majority of a character profile will stay the same for the entire piece. What does change is normally an arc integral to the novel (or short story etc) that you should fully understand anyway.

    Also, many writers here are fantasy writers, who may have characters (such as Tolkien's elves) who are essentially immortal. They will have personalities set in stone for hundreds of years, changing and growing at an even slower rate.

    Personally I think the characters are the thing that should be much more concrete, and the story is the element that should be flexible. For example, I know one of my characters so well I know what he'd do in many given situations. If he saw someone getting mugged in the street for example, I know that he would much rather run than get involved. This then dictates how the plot unfolds. This is because I write character and not plot driven stories. It is much more seamless to have a plot mould around a character rather than shape a character around a plot, because that is how it works in real life.

    Of course characters should change, but not on a whim. Any changes to a characters personality, views or opinions are a big deal, and need careful consideration. This is why I believe character sheets are useful.

    Plus they keep certain details in check. Your main character may say his favourite ice-cream is vanilla in chapter 2. So why does he change this to chocolate in chapter 30? Is this a representation of a fundamental change in his personality? Or did you just forget?

    All writers have different methods and different rules apply to everyone. If you believe a character profile might be useful (as I do - in fact I normally write detailed 2000 word+ biographies on my main protagonists and antagonists), then go ahead. Many professional writers use them. If you think they might have a negative impact, you can leave them well alone.

    And one more thing, a lot of people are using the analogy that you don't know everything about a person when you meet them.

    The fact is, the reader is just meeting them, not the writer. You should inhabit your character. You have the power to look into their minds and their hearts, and this is the only way to keep characters real and three dimensional. This is why character creation is an art. I personally don't believe in this 'throwing stuff at a canvas and seeing what sticks' attitude towards any element of creative writing.
  21. VisexXxEvans
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    VisexXxEvans New Member

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    Totally agree. When you're writing, you're not going to have time to add in all of those additional details anyway. I'd say 50% of that sheet is useful.
  22. Nathan Edwards
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    Nathan Edwards New Member

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    I've been guilty of creating one or two character profiles myself in the past, and they're not bad cheat sheets to have - when you're first starting out, of course. It keeps things organized about your character, in case you're ever stuck at some point in the narrative and you need to give some much-needed info about Megan's long-lost father or whether Trip takes the bus or a moped to work.

    As you become more adept at the craft however, asking such questions as these become an innate part of the writing process. You'll find that you won't need several pages worth of info on one character; you come up with them more on the fly than anything else. And with enough practice, it won't even seem all that contrived.

    Tina Jens wrote a delightful little essay as to the whole character-building exercise entitled 'Such Horrible People', whereby the direction a story goes ultimately depends on what questions you ask of the character. Plot is good, and characters are good, but the best stories are made with characters who take the plot and go in their own direction with it!
  23. Kacoshi Ajewl
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    Kacoshi Ajewl New Member

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    Personally I don't like Profiles for characters I think it becomes to tedious to write one for every character I write. However, This does not mean I don't keep track of them some way most of the information for a character is in my head but I also keep some of it written down in the form of a spread sheet with the major information about them there eye color, gender, age, and hair color all organized for me to work with.
  24. k10wn
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    k10wn New Member

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    That's a great tool to find little quirks to work into your character.
    Most of that sheet I wouldn't need to answer, but it's a great reminder of some little features that can round a character out (ie. What's his or her most prized possession, and why?)

    When I try and get a handle on a character, I'll sometimes write a one or two page conversation with them where I ask them stuff and answer with their voice. Not only does it give me ideas for little quirks, it really let's me play around with how I'll handle their dialogue.
  25. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger New Member

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    I feel the same way. I think a written bio Is better all around, but that's just me.

    I have tried using sheets, but I ended up using more than per character as the protagonist of the game story I was writing changed through out the story! Also another character was very deceptive and frequently changed his traits to get different responses from people. And other characters hid their true selves until the player slowly got to see who they truly were. It was easier to keep track of the characters by just writing them into the story. My characters are too dynamic for a sheet. My stories are character driven and they dictate the plot, I should know them pretty well from the start.

    One thing I do find them useful for is making small role, one dimensional characters more 3D. For example in a game I like to build up a small role character and have the player feel for them, before I brutally kill off that character. It makes their spectacular death that much more meaningful and there's no pointless killing.
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