1. Viserion

    Viserion Senior Member

    Feb 18, 2020
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    Character Sheets

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Viserion, Mar 24, 2020.

    This is a thread for writing out characters in a bite-sized, convenient way. It also includes character discussion, so feel free to politely critique each other. Please remember that the primary goal is to write out your characters.
    Character Sheet
    Physical appearance:
    Motivators: These are what make your character do anything. Please be specific, and don’t just say “revenge”.
    Demotivators: What makes your character give up? What holds them back? Be specific.
    Personality: What’s your character like as a person? What do others think of them?
    Abilities: What does your character do well?
    Weaknesses: What makes your character fail? Think kryptonite.
    J.T. Woody likes this.
  2. Kalisto

    Kalisto Senior Member

    Jun 23, 2015
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    None of these are helpful. The real thing that I want is goal, motive, conflict.

    What does your character want, why do they want it, and what is standing in their way. The rest is just "stuff." Not entirely pointless, but it's not the most important aspects of a character.
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

    May 8, 2017
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    But if all you have is goal, motive, and conflict, you don't really have a character, you have a skeleton of one. A plot zombie. The last 5 criteria in the OP all have direct bearing on the goals and motives and conflicts of the character. Motive is explicitly mentioned, actually. Weakness could potentially be conflated with conflict in some instances, etc.
    I agree about your criteria, I just think that those offered by the OP actually are helpful in some ways and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand.
  4. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

    Oct 29, 2018
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    I love that, plot zombie. You're exactly right. I prefer a much more organic approach to character though. I have to understand a character from the inside. I can't fill out a D&D sheet. I know that's not what this is, but you know what I mean. I can't describe a character in these terms until I viscerally know who they are.

    I'm going to try this on an existing character or two anyway. Maybe I'll learn something.

    Name: Mary
    Gender: Female
    Physical appearance: Slim but curved. Long, straight dark hair. Pretty.
    Motivators: A need to survive and a need to be happy. The memory wipe made the apocalypse livable, and she won't waste that. She's in love with Jason, and she won't waste that either. Being the last two people on Earth, they're stuck with each other. She's lucky they're so perfect for each other.
    Demotivators: Nothing could make Mary give up, but she is disheartened by the fact that she and Jason lost a child and neither can even remember him.
    Personality: Mary is strong and fun. She wakes up in the apocalypse with no memory and almost immediately finds ways to joke. She loves no things better than Jason, but a very close second is music. She is semi-obsessed with classic jazz, folk rock and indie pop of yesteryear. Unless a person has a strong aversion to fun, good music or strong language, they love Mary almost as soon as they meet her, or would do , if anyone were alive. If she has a serious flaw, it's vanity. She tries so hard not to care about how she looks, but she thinks about it a lot. She's just insecure enough to the crave verbal and sexual validation. At least every now and then.
    Abilities: She's not bad with a shotgun. She did save Jason from that rabid dog. She's quick too. She may have gotten gooped, but she escaped the mutant. She also has impeccable taste in music, so says the guy who writes her.
    Weaknesses: Way too trusting.

    Name: Jason
    Gender: Male
    Physical appearance: Tall. Muscled but shy of big. Handsome.
    Motivators: He has to keep Mary in the Dark. She fell for it, and he doesn't want to go through the whole thing a third time. She can't find out that he's faking his memory loss. She can't find out that she left him or that he kidnapped and drugged her. The memory wipe and ruse are working. He has to keep her happy. Above all, she can't find out that the world never actually ended.
    Demotivators: Jason can't be demotivated. He never gives up. He kidnapped Mary, drugged her and erased her memory so they could be together, so she could remember that she loved him. Twice. If he has to do it a hundred times, he will.
    Personality: He's controlling but good at hiding it, manipulative, in other words. He's tenacious. He'll do anything to get what he wants, up to and including convincing Mary she's being attacked by a mutant that is in actuality an ex-boyfriend of hers who's been drenched in acid and had his tongue cut out.
    Abilities: He's a psychopath. He's utterly unencumbered by morality.
    Weaknesses: Mary and the thought that he can never have her without Macchiavellian machinations. Really he's fine with it though. He does slip up now and then. The first time they did this, he sang along to a song he'd "never heard." He's very likely to screw up again. The smallest details could derail all of his plans.

    Hmm. That was fun. I'm not sure I learned anything new, but articulating it was definitely a useful exercise.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
  5. jej_jones

    jej_jones Member

    Jun 22, 2017
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    I'll give it a go with the protagonist from the upcoming novel I'm about to start.

    Name: John Trotter

    Gender: Male

    Physical appearance: 5'11 dark hair. Firm, but average build. Used to be more muscular

    Motivators: Enforcing the law as a police detective, though this becomes part is his conflict. Getting his wife and daughter back. Being alone, but also going out and drinking with old police buddies.

    Demotivators: When his wife left him nearly 1 year ago, he fell off the wagon. He hasn't been taking care of his body, and it shows at the start of the novel. He internally threatens to throw himself off the balcony of his apartment almost daily. His daughter is in school not to far away and still refuses to meet with him.

    Personality: As much as John SAYS he likes to be alone, he often longs for belonging. This becomes evident early on when (after investigating the site of a recent suicide) he happily goes drinking with his police buddies. He is generally solemn and depressed. He is aimless at the start of the novel and will likely find "himself" throughout.

    Abilities: John is a trained police detective in the fictional town of Lincolnshire, Maine. He has many agency resources at his disposal. He caught a serial killer as a beat cop which was a high profile case (which was why he was promoted). He is a skilled marksman, but hasn't used his weapon in many years.

    Weaknesses: Like I stated before, John is aimless at the start of the novel. He has no passion in life. The actions of my antagonist jumpstart give John meaning.
    The Bishop likes this.
  6. Gladiolus83

    Gladiolus83 Contributor Contributor

    Feb 24, 2020
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    Ok, just keep in mind that these only reflect the beginning of the story.

    Name: Suzaku

    Gender: Male

    Physical appearance: Agewise he appear to be in his mid 20’s. Tall, lean, muscular. A golden tan, fiery red eyes, jet black hair kept in a braid that reaches his knees.

    Motivators: Keeping everyone living in his domain safe. Spending time with his lover (provided that he currently have one).

    Demotivators: He isn’t really the type to give up easily, mostly because he is in a position where he isn’t allowed to.

    Personality: Even though he cares for his subjects, he still thinks his own needs go before theirs. He is stubborn, and do not change opinions easily. He is also very dominating in all aspects of life. He does genuinely love each and every one of the lovers he have had, but even towards them he is possessive and prone to extreme jealousy.

    Abilities: Create and manipulate fire. Can transform into a phoenix.

    Weaknesses: Beautiful men. His bad temper.

    Name: Zhuque

    Gender: Male

    Physical appearance: Humanoid, he look like he’s in his early 30’s, lean and muscular, average in height, white skin that have black markings that match his whiteless eyes, hair made out of blueish yellow flames that were more yellow when he was younger, and the older he get the more blue they will become.

    Motivators: Leading the united demon forces to victory so that they can reclaim their rightful place in the world. Winning the heart of the one he love.

    Demotivators: Being in love with someone who’ll most likely never love him back.

    Personality: mostly comes of as a scheming manipulator willing to do anything for the sake of achieving his goals, but at times he can be very loving and compassionate.

    Abilities: Create and manipulate fire. Can manifest wings at will.

    Weaknesses: his two motivators being at odds with each other can cause his resolve to waver.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
    Viserion likes this.
  7. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Comma (x5) Chameleon Contributor

    Feb 5, 2018
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    I'll try this too! In my progress journal, I've expressed my frustration with my MC.

    Name: Shaula
    Gender: female
    Physical appearance: tan skin, deep burgundy brown, short, curly hair. About 5'5" (average), brown eyes that look almost red in the sunlight (I've met people with eyes like that and I've always thought they were super pretty). In the first installment, she is 18.
    Motivators: wants to be acknowledged by her father (this is what drives her actions at first, then she finds out the reason he treats her the way he does...). She wants to leave the island where she's spent her entire life sheltered away. She thinks if she can make her father acknowledge how capable she really is, that he will take her with him off of the island.
    Demotivators: fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown. Fear of being alone/left behind (call it ptsd for living her whole life watching her father and friends leave the island while she stays behind). These don't necessarily make her give up... But these things do have an impact on her decisions.
    Personality: she is stubborn and head strong. Wants to always do things on her own, won't admit when she needs help, always tries to one-up people and pick fights. Her father has also taught her to never rely on anyone, everyone has the potential to hurt you. Because of these traits, her friend circle is very small. She has 2 friends, but she even keeps them at arms length
    Abilities: she is an excellent fighter. Hand to hand combat, swords and knives. It started when her father began teaching her how to defend herself, but Shaula kept training almost obsessively so that her father would accept her as one of his crew and take her with him on his adventures (he never does). Because of her mother, she also has the ability to speak to the dead (something she doesn't realize at first... she thought her childhood "imaginary friend" was simply a construct of her loneliness. once she does realize this ability, she sees it as a curse)
    Weaknesses: her hotheadedness gets her into trouble. Also, her mother. Shaula never knew her mother. She is lead to believe that she died during childbirth. When she finds out that her imaginary friend is her her mother and finds out HOW she died, She latches on to her, even as the spirit is literally sucking the life out of her. She even has the opportunity to get rid of her mom's spirit (that's growing more and more sinister), but she refused because she doesn't want to lose her mom. In short, mommy issues is her weakness
    Viserion likes this.
  8. Viserion

    Viserion Senior Member

    Feb 18, 2020
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    Thought I’d make a sheet for my characters. Enjoy some quotes as well! Some comedic, others not.

    Name: Elenxes the Dragon

    Gender: Male

    Appearance: Short, painfully thin and pale. Medium-length black hair, burning gold irises. Bags under his eyes. Roughly 17.

    In dragon form, he’s covered in black scales and has two legs and two wings. Very serpentine neck and tail, and a muscular chest and back. Has horns. Breathes golden-red flames with black edges.

    Motivators: An end to slavery, being a hero before his fate plays out. He was a slave himself, and that drives him to do anything to end it.

    Demotivators: He’d be crushed if he failed, and he hates weakness. Also, never bring up his fate unless you want to be punched.

    Personality: Distant and brooding, yet prone to flights of fancy. Depressed, seems cold and emotionless but actually quite volatile. Sometimes just stares into the distance.

    Abilities: Can become a dragon in battle. Activated by a scream and extreme emotion.

    Weaknesses: Dragon shape isn’t permanent, weakened by frequent use. He’s rendered comatose after a single use. Likes shiny things. Terrible at swordfighting or long-term planning.


    “I knew where I was going since this story began.”

    “I never thought I’d meet someone like you.”

    “I’m sorry I had to do this. Know that I never wanted it.”

    “Is that a dog?!” (At a lion).

    “Fuck you, bitch. Actually, how about not.”

    Name: Arsien son of Belgad

    Gender: Male

    Appearance: Tall, blond and tanned. Muscular from his years in the army, but still lean. Green eyes, freckles. 17 at the start of the story.

    Motivators: Loyalty to his people, fondness for Elenxes and survival.

    Demotivators: He’s deeply conflicted between Elenxes and the Empire. Often wracked with indecision if the two come into conflict.

    Personality: Honorable, traditional and kind. Strict, but grounded. Snarky at times.

    Abilities: Tactical genius, and exceptional fighter.

    Weaknesses: Sometimes too strict, and he’s prickly about his treasonous father. Overly focused on bloodlines.


    “Lighten up.”

    “Don’t die today.”

    “Fuck, where’s Elenxes?”

    “This is my fault. No, wait, that’s incorrect. It’s Elenxes’s fault.”

    “That’s a lot of blood.” *passes out*
    Gladiolus83 likes this.
  9. Wariforever14

    Wariforever14 New Member

    Mar 26, 2020
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    The vast desert
    Thought I'd give this a try for some of them.

    Name: Adam Heidrich
    Gender: Male
    Physical appearance: 5'8'', lean, though muscular. Light skin that tends to freckle in the sun. Dark, straight hair cut himself (so not very well). Dark blue eyes. Various scars from past injuries. Needs glasses, so often squints when he's focused on something.
    Motivators: Adam's motivation has to do with his past. He had his family taken away from him at such a young age, and throughout his childhood and teenagehood, everything he's ever known was plucked from him. His motivation is keeping the small family he has left safe, and to make sure that what happened to him will never happen to anyone else. He wants an end to child soldiers.
    Demotivators: Adam fears failure. He worries that his actions will get his friends killed.
    Personality: Adam can come off as almost too happy. Sometimes people think that he's not taking things seriously, when it is in fact the opposite. He hides fear and pain with humor. He is incredibly loyal to a fault, often assuming the best of people even on their worst days. He would possibly be described as annoying by some due to how much he jokes and talks.
    Abilities: Adam is incredibly strong and skilled in physical combat. He prefers to use a knife over a gun. Can become a German Shepherd at will, has heightened sense of smell, touch, and hearing.
    Weaknesses: Poor vision. Focus on others rather than himself- he'd gladly put himself at risk to save others. He takes too many risks and will run headfirst into danger.

    Name: Nick Baker
    Gender: Male
    Physical appearance: 6'1''. Very thin. Dark skin. Large, "doe-like" brown eyes. Hair shaved close to his head. Various scars from past injuries.
    Motivators: Nick's main motivation is to stay alive, both for himself and for others. He is medically trained, and so often is moved by the fact that others need him to survive. Otherwise, he'd be hiding out, playing it safe, so that he'd get through it alive.
    Demotivators: Fear. Nick is a very fearful person, and is hesitant to make bold moves. He really doesn't want to die.
    Personality: Nick is quiet, and keeps most things to himself. He is a true, loyal friend, and those he has chosen to be friends with will have his loyalty and love forever. He is a caretaker, and make sure everyone around him is alright. He is also a wonderful listener. However, he doesn't let go of hurts or grief quickly- he will mourn or hold a grudge for a long time.
    Abilities: Can turn into a mule deer at will. Nick is fast, both in his deer form and in human form. He is a medic and is medically trained for field combat. He has a keen sense of smell and hearing. He is trained in physical combat, though prefers evasion tactics and blocking to actual combat.
    Weaknesses: Fear. Like his animal, Nick will choose flight over fight any day.
    Viserion likes this.
  10. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

    Mar 17, 2020
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    not a pro, yet very curious
    I can write such list only at the end of the story, so for me is not really helpful. But I do jot down some key features that seem to be the catalyst for their behaviors rather than just an established cause.

    to me it is how they view the world that explains how they will behave in any given situation, rather than separate wants and weaknesses, I guess I am not being very helpful here...
  11. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

    Sep 9, 2019
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    The White Rose county, UK
    Not to derail the thread into a discussion but I agree with those who prefer a more organic approach.

    My characters invariably have ill-defined powers or abilities. I almost never define the magic systems of my world in hard black-and-white, so their powers work in a similarly ill-defined way.

    Likewise, I usually only mention appearance in passing, unless it's important to the plot.

    Personality-wise, I start with a concept of the character's general personality type at the start, and let the character develop from there. Their motivation will be driven by the plot of the story.

    I understand though that it's not necessarily a method that works for everyone.
    Viserion likes this.
  12. The Bishop

    The Bishop Senior Member

    Mar 8, 2018
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    I'll do it, sure. Why not?

    Name: Jason Slott


    Physical Appearance:
    He's pale and healthy, yet still run down. Gaunt and exhausted looking. Long-ish dark hair and brown eyes. 5'11. Eyes are always red and bloodshot from sleep loss and drugs.

    He does what he does based on the influence of those around him, i.e. his friends and accomplices. His motivation is really chalked up to it being the only thing he can go on. His public face is all for freedom of the people, but he really doesn't give a shit about that. He just wants to kill many people. And he wants to kill them because he has no other person to blame for anything. They're the only ones that give him the opportunity to lay blame.

    Demotivators: The people he wants to kill are far more determined because they fight for something real. They really want freedom. They are better than he and his gang are, and he ends up overestimating himself a lot. He and his enemies both fight for the same thing and as time goes on the public also demotivates him. They don't think he's taking the right steps toward what he promised he would be doing.

    Jason is very unstable. He has had mild psychosis from a very early age, which increasingly became worse. He also suffers from depression and PTSD. He's heavily guided by those around him, many of whom are horrible influences, especially for a young man. They all do many drugs and many regrettable things. He's very impulsive and unrightfully cocky.

    He has the ability to somehow survive things many of his friends cannot.

    Drugs, friends, winning, and himself.
  13. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Aug 30, 2018
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    Norwich, UK
    I tried to sit and fill this out but it was almost possible for me because none of this is how I begin creating a character. Most of this surface stuff manifests on the page and I semi-free write my characters. I tend to build them as people first before I even plant them into the novel. I don't give them the story goal just immediate life goals because most of the epic stories we go through in our lives we don't always know are coming. We're distracted by the things in front of us and then the story hits us like a curve ball. This isn't so with everyone. Some characters are very focused and have no life around the story goal because it's meant to feel like an obsession to them.
  14. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

    Feb 2, 2019
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    Posting here instead of actually writing
    My issue with character sheets is that they assume a static character. As the story progresses the character should change, especially if dealing with hard/sad/harsh situations. Luke was not the same person after Vader cut off his hand as he was when he first encountered the droids. At best a character sheet gives you a rough basis for where to start the character, but it really should not be the same by the end of the story unless you are dealing with an older, well established, well traveled, experienced character. But even then, Gandalf changed from the Hobbit to Return of the King.

    If a character is the 'Happy go lucky Teenage Jock' in chapter one, and at the end of the book after surviving the collapse of society due to the zombie apocalypse, if he is still the 'happy go lucky teenage jock' I tend to think a). the writer can't write or b). the character is seriously disturbed.
  15. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Contributor Contributor

    Aug 11, 2019
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    Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, North America
    Currently Reading::
    TRYING (!!!) to read Eric Flint's "Ring of Fire" series.......it's soooo many books!!!!!
    A question - do people do character sheets for each "year" (or decade, etc) their character ages? Or is this a one time thing to start a character and you add additional notes as your character "ages" (progresses) through your story?

    Or as a third possibility, you do it once to "birth" your character and then you just use it as a reference tool to remind you about certain characteristics of the character?

    A combination?
  16. Viserion

    Viserion Senior Member

    Feb 18, 2020
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    If you want, that’s fine.
  17. Partridge

    Partridge Senior Member

    May 30, 2017
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    Cambridgeshire, UK
    Heck, I'll jump in for fun!

    Name: Frank Merralls
    Gender: Male
    Physical appearance: Tall, normally unshaven, goes too long between haircuts. Wears once smart clothes, but never has them ironed.
    Motivators: Money, as a means, rather than an end. Frank has gambling debts and has whittled away at his fortune over the years and wants to return to the good old days of financial freedom and security. Sex. It's a distraction from the debt and his crumbling career.
    Demotivators: Any kind of effort on his part. He hates leaving his home town, or having to see those who he has a professional relationship with, because they expose his inadequacies and force him to look his problems straight in the eye.
    Personality: Funny without meaning to be and too relaxed. Initially he appears charismatic and charming, making new people in his life (especially females) feel like the centre of the world - until you get to know him and find out that he's eaten up with self doubt and cynicism, and if Frank has accepted you into his life, it's just because he has a use for you.
    Abilities: Snorts coke and gets parking tickets.
    Weaknesses: Self destruction. Frank can't cope with getting close to success, normally finding a way to throw it away by doing something stupid.
    Viserion likes this.

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