Wednesday Writing Tips: Figurenentwicklung – Character Chart for Fiction Writers

Die Wednesday Writing Tips sind eine Reihe von wöchentlich erscheinenden Schreib-Tipps erfolgreicher AutorInnen und Stoffentwicklungsmethoden:

The EPIGUIDE.COM Character Chart for Fiction Writers

By Kira Lerner and Toni Walker

GENERAL INFO

Character’s Full Name:

Date:

Name origin:

Nickname, if any (if so, explain its origin – e.g. who created it?):

Does s/he like the nickname?

Birth date:

Place of birth:

Ethnic background:

Religion:

Degree of religious practice (e.g. orthodox, casual, lapsed):

Current address:

Does s/he rent or own?

Brief description of home (apartment, house, etc.):

Does s/he live with anyone?

Describe the area in which s/he lives (city, town, rural, other):

Is this his/her ideal home and location? If not, what would s/he prefer?

Home decor: 0 Expensive 0 Inexpensive 0 Carefully planned 0 Comfortable 0 Neat 0 Cluttered

Does s/he drive? Own a car? (Make, model, color, age, etc.):

Pets? (If so, what kind/how many/names?)

If so, how important are they? How well are they treated?

Current occupation (include length of time, location, job title):

Job satisfaction (happy, discontent, ambivalent, ambitious…):

Income:

Sexuality (e.g. straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, uncertain…):

Marital status:
If married or currently romantically involved, with whom, and for how long?
List any significant previous romantic partners:
For current spouse/partner, what does the character call him/her (pet names, nicknames, etc.)?
How did they meet?

Any children (include names, ages, other parent if different from any current partner):

Describe his/her relationship with children (if any)?

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE:

Height:

Weight: Body type (thin, athletic, overweight, curvy, muscular, etc.)

Eye color: Need glasses/contacts/hearing aid? Skin tone (pale, ivory, tan, olive, ruddy, brown, etc.):

Face shape (round, oval, chubby, thin, long, square, heart-shaped, etc.:

Any prominent features, freckles/moles/scars/tattoos or other distinguishing marks:

Whom does s/he most look like (e.g. famous person or relative)?

General health (good, excellent, poor…)?

Any current health problems or chronic conditions?

How does s/he dress?
Price: 0 Expensive 0 Average 0 Inexpensive 0 Cheap

Style: 0 Haute Couture 0 Conservative 0 Trendy 0 Eclectic 0 Business 0 Sexy 0 Gaudy 0 Casual 0 Sloppy

Why does she dress in the above manner (e.g. to be noticed)?

Any special jewelry? (If so, why is it special?) What about accessories?

Grooming: 0 Fastidious/Very neat 0 Average 0 Clean but scruffy 0 Dirty/Unkempt
If other than average, why?

Describe hairstyle (long, short, crewcut, locs, bangs, side-part etc.):

Natural hair texture (smooth, wavy, curly, etc.):
Current hair texture (if different):
Natural hair color:
Current hair color (if different):

SPEECH AND LANGUAGE/COMMUNICATION:

Pace of speech (fast, average, slow?):

Voice tone (shrill, high, average, deep, squeaky, hoarse, harsh, authoritative, cultured, etc.):

Accent/dialect, if any: Any favorite/habitual words/phrases? Curse words?

Describe general vocabulary or speech pattern (e.g. educated, precise, pretentious, average, uneducated, vulgar…)
Mannerisms/demeanor?
0 Cool/confident 0 Volatile 0 Nervous/shy 0 Aggressive 0 Friendly 0 Remote 0 Other (describe)

Typical posture:
0 Stiff 0 Stands straight but not stiffly 0 Average, varies with mood 0 Slumped/defeated 0 Slouchy, careless
0 Relaxed 0 Other (describe)

Gestures: 0 Rarely 0 Controlled 0 When excited 0 Most of the time 0 Wildly/oddly 0 Other (describe)

Common/habitual gestures (e.g. nail-biting, hair patting, drumming fingers, clenched fists, hands in pockets, etc.):

EVERYDAY BEHAVIOR / HABITS:
Finances: (prudent/cautious, some debt, lives paycheck to paycheck, deep in debt, criminal activity, etc.):

Personal Habits: Smoking, Drinking, Drugs, Gambling, etc.? Are any of these addictions?

Morning Routine: Describe the character’s morning rituals. Who else is sleeping in the same bed? What time does he/she wake up? Is he/she cheerful in the morning? What does he/she do during breakfast-read, watch tv, feed kids, etc.

Afternoon/Workday: Does s/he work outside the home? How does he/she get there? Is s/he good at this job? What if anything would he/she rather be doing? How long and hard is the work day? If the job isn’t outside the home, what does a typical afternoon consist of?

Dinner: Does s/he eat at home or go out a lot? What is/are his or her favorite restaurant(s)? Who cooks at home? Does s/he eat alone?

Evening: What does your character do on a typical evening? Where? With whom? How much does he/she enjoy it? What is the ideal evening for him or her?

Sleep Habits: Fall asleep easily, or an insomniac? Any recurring dreams? Sleep soundly, or toss & turn?

Any special talents? Skills?

What is s/he particularly unskilled at?

Any hobbies (sports, games, arts, collecting, etc.)?

FAMILY OF ORIGIN:

Mother’s name (include maiden name if known/applicable):

Current status: __ living __ deceased (If alive, enter age: ____ )

Mother’s occupation, if any:

Describe the mother’s relationship with character:

Father’s name:

Current status: __ living __ deceased (If alive, enter age: ____ )

Father’s occupation, if any:

Describe the father’s relationship with character:

Any step-parents, foster parents, or birth parents (if not same as above):
(If s/he is adopted, does s/he know? If not, why?)

Sibling(s) (include age and birth order relative to main character):

Relationship(s) with character:

Nieces/Nephews: In-Laws, if any:

Other than the above, who else in the story is part of his/her extended family (e.g. cousins, etc.)?

THE PAST:

Home town (if different from current home):

Was his/her childhood happy? Troubled? Dull? Does the character remember it accurately?

Earliest memory:

Happiest memory:

Saddest memory:

How much school did s/he attend, if any? Did/does s/he like school? Why or why not?

Most significant childhood event:

Other significant childhood events:

Significant past jobs:

Police record (explain any convictions, sentence served, where/when):

First crush/romantic love?

What was his/her first sexual experience? Is it a positive or negative memory?

Major illnesses, accidents or traumas? How is s/he still affected, if at all?

RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS:

Who is his/her best friend?

Who are his/her other close friends?

How in general does the character relate to friends?

… to strangers?
… to spouse/Lover?
… to past spouses/lovers?
… to own children, if any?
… to other family members?
… to the same sex?
… to the opposite sex?
… to children in general?
… to others who are more successful?
… to others who are less successful?
… to boss (if any)?
… to underlings at work?
… to competitors?
… to authority (police, IRS, politicians, attorneys, doctors, etc.)?

What do most people consider his/her most likeable trait?

What do most people consider his/her biggest flaw?

Any secret attractions/crushes?

In romantic relationships, is s/he generally monogamous or uncommitted? (If the latter, is s/he honest w/ partners?)

Is his/her sexual behavior inhibited, average, experimental, or reckless? Has this changed (and if so, why)?

Whom does s/he dislike most, and why?

Whom does s/he like most, and why?

Who’s the most important person in his/her life right now, and why?

Whom does s/he secretly admire (nonromantic), and why?

Who was his/her biggest influence, and why?

Person s/he most misunderstands or misjudges:

Person who most misunderstands or misjudges him or her:

Has s/he lost touch with anyone significant in his/her life? If so, why?

Worst end of a relationship (could be friend, romance, colleague…)?

Whom does s/he most rely on for practical advice?

Whom does s/he most rely on for emotional support?

Whom, if anyone, does s/he support (e.g. advice or emotional support)?

MENTAL ATTITUDE/PERSONAL BELIEFS:

Any psychological issues (e.g. phobias, depression, paranoia, narcissism, etc.)?
Is s/he an optimist or pessimist?

Meyers Briggs Personality Type:

S/he is most comfortable when … (alone, hanging w/friends, drinking, etc.):

S/he is most uncomfortable when … (in a crowd, alone, speaking in public, etc.):

Is s/he cautious, brave, or reckless in his/her approach to life?

What does s/he most value/prioritize (family, money, success, religion, etc.)?

Whom does s/he really love best?

Whom or what would s/he be willing to die for?

Is s/he generally compassionate or self-involved?

Personal philosophy:

What’s his/her most embarrassing moment?

What is his/her secret wish?

What (or who) is his/her biggest fear?

Any prejudices (race, culture, sexuality, religion, etc.)?

Political party or beliefs, if any:

Does s/he believe in fate or destiny? Is s/he superstitious?

Character’s greatest strength:

Other good characteristics:

Character’s greatest flaw:

Other character flaws:

What are his/her own favorite attributes (both physical and personal)?

What about least favorite?

Are these feelings accurate?

How does s/he think others perceive him or her? (And is this accurate?)

Biggest regret:

Other regrets:

Proudest accomplishment:

Other accomplishments:

Quirks:

Character’s biggest secret(s)? Who else knows (if anyone)?

How does s/he react to a crisis?

What usually causes the problems in his/her life (romance, finances, friends, rivals, colleagues, personality flaws, health, etc.)?

What would s/he most like to change about her-/himself? Why?

Write a paragraph (~100 words) of the character describing him/herself:

Short term goals:

Long term goals:

Does s/he plan to achieve these goals, or does s/he think they’re unrealistic?

Will others be affected? If so, does s/he care?

What if anything is stopping him/her from achieving these goals?

What event or occurrence does s/he most dread or fear?

What does he/she actively work to gain, keep or protect?

Which person in his/her life would s/he most want to emulate?

Which person in his/her life would s/he least want to emulate?

LIKES/FAVORITES:

Food:

Drink:

Color:

Book:

Film:

TV Show:

Music/Song:

Sport:

Hangout(s):

Motto/Quote:

Possession:

We can cover that by a line of dialogue...

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