Cha-ra-cter: the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
Chart: record the progress or development of.
Cha-ra-cter chart: a super awesome way to develop your characters in order to write a super awesome book.
With July’s blog theme being It’s all about the Character, this is the first in a series of posts about how to create dynamic characters with enough juice in their back pocket to fuel a dynamic story. A good place to start is, well … where I usually start, and that’s by filling out a chart I’ve created for my main character, antagonist, and important minor characters.
I can’t remember who first told me about making a simple character chart, where you write your character’s name in the middle and then fill in each of the four corners with various answers. Whoever it was … I thank you, because it’s a practice I still follow for a majority of my characters!
Here’s a rather horrible picture of an older character chart done for an antagonist:
Since then, I’ve expanded my chart to include even more questions that includes:
What is the character’s:
- Personal Motto?
- Favorite Quote?
- Dominant Traits?
- Deep Secret?
- Vulnerability and Achilles Heel?
- Occupation and Background?
What are the character’s GOALS and what’s at stake if their goal is not reached?
What does the character WANT and what’s at stake if they do not get it?
What does the character NEED and what’s at stake if they do not get it?
What is the character’s EMOTIONAL STATE in:
- Act I?
- Act II?
- Act III?
What is painful?
What is important?
What is the character’s:
- Unique perspective, meaning, how do they view the world?
- Weaknesses or flaws and how do they eventually overcome the flaw?
- Limits, meaning things they will not do to reach a goal?
- Habits and Mannerisms?
- Abilities, Strengths, and Skills?
Now my chart looks like this and is loaded as a template in Scrivener:
If you’d like to give this character development chart a try, download this PDF.
Want the Word file instead so you can modify the chart according to your needs? No problem, try this.
Enjoy and I hope this helps you create awesome, dynamic, memorable characters! More tips will be coming soon. Until then, if you have some great suggestions and tips you’d like to share, feel free to submit a guest post! Instructions on how can be found in our submission guidelines.
Happy writing and drawing!
Thank you for this very helpful tool, Laura!
Thanks for sharing your chart, Laura. I’ve always created profiles of my characters but in meandering paragraph style. A chart makes the information so much more accessible.