Character Development Questions

Character Creation Worksheet

This sheet has been cobbled together from some great worksheets and articles/podcasts by Chuck Wendig and Brandon Sanderson.

You can also download a Word Document version of these questions here.


Name:

Age:

Character problem (not plot/story problem, their internal conflict at beginning of story:)

What the Character thinks is the solution to The Problem:

Actual solution to the problem / character’s unknown need:

Character Limitations (internal traits that get in the way):

Complications (forces outside the character that get in their way):

What was their childhood like?

Do they have living family? What’s their relationship with their family like?

Greatest fear:

Immediate goal:

Long-term goal:

Defining Positive Trait (from the Positive Trait Thesaurus):

Two additional positive traits:

What circumstances led to these traits?

Defining Negative Trait (from the Negative Trait Thesaurus):

Two additional negative traits:

What circumstances led to these traits?

What is their great emotional wound? (a repeated small trauma or any large traumatic events that happened in their past)

How did that wound affect their personality traits?

What is their Lie (the thing they believe that isn’t actually true, such as “people will only like me if I am cheerful all the time”)?

What is the character good at?

What does the character fail at?

What is the characters general motto for life?

Distinguishing mannerisms:

How are they perceived by…

  • …strangers in the street?
  • …acquaintances at a work function?
  • …colleagues?
  • …authority figures?
  • …friends in their friend circles?
  • …children?
  • …potential romantic/sexual partners?
  • …extended family?

What’s their role in a group dynamic?

Leader / Joker / Parent / Hype man / Mooch / Other:

What do they do on rainy days?

Are they:

Street-smart / Book-smart Optimist / Pessimist Introvert / Extrovert

CHARACTER SLIDING SCALES:

A well rounded, realistic character should generally have characteristics that match up with this sliding scale. No well-rounded character will score high in all three categories, and none will score low in all three categories. Usually, there is a ‘best’ an ‘average’ and a ‘worst’, but there are many combinations that make sense: 10, 10, 1. Or 3,10,6. There are many combinations.

A well-rounded character will not have categories all within 2 numbers of each other.

ProactivityA character that is a go-getter, gets things done, achieves or tries very hard to achieve, at goals (even if they don’t succeed). A proactive character is the first to take initiative in tough situations, and the first to volunteer when something needs to get done. Many great antagonists are very proactive, because this generally works side by side with their ‘evil’ plans, or whathaveyou. However, there are many great protagonists who are also very proactive as well.

CompetenceA 10 on this scale is likely a character who is maybe too smart for their own good, or too clever. Think of MacGyver and all his whimsy, very good at building things out of nothing. Or, maybe you have a rogue who is incredibly skilled with the knife, or a chef who is the best baker. How quickly does your character learn? Also—how independent are they? An independent character who would rather not receive help from others (and plays this role well) is considered very competent.

LikeabilityOn the street, how well does this character do with other people? What do peers often think of this character? You’ll notice that the sliding scales are important when it comes to likeability because typically Proactivity and Competence can shape the way a character is viewed. (This is why not all numbers on the scale should be equal). If you have a character who is a 9 in proactivity, and a 10 in competence, well, how many people are going to like them? Probably not many, because the character might come across as rather stuck-up. A good antagonist is often a 10, 10, 2 on a sliding scale.

On the other hand, you may have a character who tries very hard (10 in competence) but might fail too often for their own good (3 in competence), but because of their flaws, people love how hard the character tries. After all, it is the thought, the energy, and the passion that counts. (8 in likeability).

Proactivity12345678910
Competence12345678910
Likeability12345678910

What secrets do they keep? What are they most afraid of people finding out?

What is their biggest accomplishment?

What is their idea of perfect happiness?

Do they want to be remembered? What for?

%d bloggers like this: