1. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    Character Development (Fleshing Out)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CadillacXLR8r, May 3, 2011.

    Hey, I was wondering if the following format is a good way to sort of know aspects of your character before starting to write. This is what I got during my Creative Writing class when we were working on Character Development, so I don't know if this would work or not?

    1. Character’s Name:
    2. Character’s Nickname:
    3. Sex:
    4. Age:
    5. Looks:
    6. Education:
    7. Vocation/ Occupation:
    8. Status and Money:
    9. Marital Status:
    10. Family, Ethnicity:
    11. Diction, Accent, Etc:
    12. Relationships:
    13. Places (Home, Office, Car, Time Period, Etc.):
    14. Possessions:
    15. Recreation, Hobbies:
    16. Obsessions:
    17. Beliefs:
    18. Politics:
    19. Sexual History:
    20. Ambitions:
    21. Religion:
    22. Superstitions:
    23. Fears:
    24. Attitudes:
    25. Character Flaws:
    26. Character Strengths:
    27. Pets:
    28. Taste in Books, Music, Etc. :
    29. Journal Entries:
    30. Correspondence:
    31. Food Preference:
    32. Handwriting:
    33. Astrological Sign:
    34. Talents:
     
  2. Chachi Bobinks
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    Chachi Bobinks Senior Member

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    I think it's a pretty good template. I use one that has a lot of the same questions you've got there but is about twice as long (I'm an overachiever?) that I got off of a roleplaying forum. It gets you thinking up the inner workings of your char. You might add in some 'if' questions. Example:

    Reaction...
    ... if cut off in traffic:
    ...if given too much change by store clerk:
    ...if dumped by long term love:

    You would answer questions like this in a writing example. I think you need some questions that will actually lead to you playing with your character so you can get his or her mechanics down. Of course I'm sure you know that playing with the character is the best way to flesh the character out before writing him or her. I just worry that the template your using doesn't give you that opportunity when it should.
     
  3. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    Also, motivation in life (what really drives them) and also personal motto that they live by.

    Also their opinions of themselves, do they like how they look? Do they think they are a decent person?

    Who is their "role model" in the sense of someone they would want to be? Keep in mind by the end of the book, an MC should become their role model in a major way. Like Luke Skywalker becomes a pilot like his father at the end of IV.

    I also find it helpful to write out entire scenes from their past, even if you never use any of it in your story. This could be an interaction they had with their brother when they were five, or what happened to them at work/school the day before your story begins.
     
  4. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    I usually add sexuality or sexual preference as well, what do they like in a person and such. Like gender, specific qualities. Definitely add 'if' questions. Do they have bad habits, do they smoke? Drink? How is their relationship with their parents? Siblings? Children? Friends? Any past traumas? It's all up to you really. Somethings can help with backstory. Like, "Maria hasn't spoken to her father in years." Okay, why? "Because she doesn't agree with his ideals." Okay, what are his ideals, what are hers? How do they clash? Does she want to make up with him? Does he? You can go on forever!
     
  5. Ophiucha
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    Ophiucha Member

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    I can't really answer that without knowing your story. Personally, I wouldn't need several of these to write about my characters - they serve no purpose. But maybe in your story, they would. Do they? The ones I would question: "taste in books, movies, etc", "food preferences", "handwriting", and "astrological sign". Taste in books and movies - maybe? Does it come up in your story? Most of the books I have read make no mention of this, so it mustn't be that common. Same with food. I can't imagine handwriting will appear in your story, though I guess if there are a lot of letters in your story, then maybe, but even then, you'd probably only need their signature for that. Astrological sign, though... yeah, I can't see how that one could ever be useful. Unless you are writing a Zodiac Killer story or else your character follows her zodiac religiously, but that's pretty niche.

    The best way to develop a character is within the context of the story. What do you need to know and flesh out in order to write this book? What characters does she meet, and what are her relationships with them? What does she do, before and during the story? Is there romance - with which gender, and with a stranger, new friend, their established spouse, etc.? Make up a character chart based on what happens in your story, not based on something your teacher printed out for the whole class, some of whom are likely writing detective stories, some writing fantasy, some writing lit fic.
     
  6. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Name/Nicknames:
    Role in Story:
    Conflict/Challenge:
    Opponent(s):
    Supporter(s):
    Social Standing Traits
    Approximate Age:
    Profession:
    Education:
    Social Class:
    Relationships
    Spouse:
    Lover(s):
    Friends:
    Children:
    Parents:
    Others:
    Observable Traits
    Physical:
    Identifying Trait:
    Clothing:
    Scents:
    Habits:
    Mannerisms:
    Personality
    Emotional Style:
    Fear(s)/Flaws:
    Personality:
    Past:
    What makes them happy/motivated:
    What makes them sad/angry:
    Development in story:
    Conflicts and how it effects them:

    I actually kind of got this from someone on here (credit to whoever they were) but I slightly edited to help with planning my characters for the my own story.
    I hope this helps.
     
  7. CadillacXLR8r
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    CadillacXLR8r Member

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    I understand the comments, and I believe when I took the class, the teacher was saying that she wanted us to be ready for anything so that is why she gave us the kind of list she did. I remember there were some things for the 'if' sentences, but I dont know yet.
     
  8. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whatever works for you.
    Time spent figuring out the answers to all these question may be better spent working on your story.

    I'm not saying that you do not need to know the answers to a lot of these questions - yes you need to know your character really, really well -but don't get bogged down by it.

    Leave some things to be discovered about your characters through the process of your writing.
     
  9. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    I don't know why I didn't think of these earlier, but these are a few more things I use:
    Power animal/totem: you never have to actually use this in the story, but it can be helpful to give them similar personality characteristics to an owl, eagle, wolf, etc.

    "Friends" character most alike; "Harry Potter" character most alike; "Star Wars" character most alike: with this one, the point is to take a TV show, movie, or book that you love and typecast characters by similarity. Especially if you do this with multiple things, no one will know you based this particular character off of "Chandler/Ron/C-3P0" and you will have a more realistic character.

    Enneagram Personality Type: Look up enneagrams. 1-9 personality types and once you figure out which character is which, the descriptions can help you with how your characters would act

    Myers-Briggs Personality Type: Look this up as well. This one has 16 types of personalities, and again once you figure out which character is which, the description is really helpful for motives, etc.
     
  10. nzric
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    nzric Active Member

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    Good questions to think about when developing the character but you should write the answers in the first person of the character (even if the novel isn't in first person).

    That way you can explore the way they think and the reasons behind things.

    You'll be surprised where it takes you because you'll find out a lot more about the character and maybe come up with slightly new directions for the story.

    E.g. if you're writing a bland list of traits you may say "Favourite music: Oasis" and move on,

    but as the character you may write "I remember me and my mate Gary were at the Brixton Academy way back in... far out was it that long ago? - it must have been cause I remember we both had those tight black jeans everyone wore and my favourite t-shirt was this knock-off Nirvana shirt I bought at Flinders station. Well, Gary blagged his way in while I had to queue up at the door with my ticket. By the time I got in the scammy bastard was way up the front, howling away to Wonderwall in the mosh pit like some banshee. Tops night though..."
     
  11. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The ones like occupation, financial status, maybe key events of their past etc are important....but the ones like astro sign, possessions, favorite foods etc are way too trivial and, in my opinion, will do more harm than good by taking focus away from what's important and by making some things feel forced (i.e. if you feel the need to convey all these things in weird places in the story.)

    Here are the things I always focus on:

    > Motivation (why are they inclined to take the action that makes them the MC)
    > Obstacles - things that would make a formidable obstacle i.e. what makes them afraid, angry, depressed, indignant etc
    > Likewise, what gets them going as far as positive feelings and rejuvenation
    > Key changes in the story, whether changes of personality or changes of motivation, and what causes these things
    > Fatal flaw (okay they don't have to DIE, but what are some personality traits and habits that cause them to make bad decisions in a way that's fitting with who they are. No one always makes the right choices, but also, I don't want to constantly facepalm over a character's stupidity. Find the balance, and make the character's mistakes consistent with their personality. )
     

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