NaNoWriMo Notes: Characters


Characters are the core of the story. Without them, you really don’t have much of a story or really anything to write. It’s why I take a lot of care in my character building. I want to understand the character the best I can before I start the story itself. Once I know my characters, the story will unfold from there, and I don’t have to worry about knowing every possible detail about the plot itself. My characters will reveal all the details to me in time, and if I write myself into a corner, often it is character building exercises that help me pull myself out and toss me back into the flow of the tale. To be honest, when I write, this isn’t my story I’m telling, it’s the characters’ stories. When I’m cognizant of that, it makes it a lot easier to write the tale, and to avoid suffering from writer’s block.

To help myself along, here is the general template I use for character building. This template is years in the making, where I’ve received permission to borrow aspects of other writing friend’s templates and some I developed on my own:

Basics:

Name:

Age:

Gender Identity:

Sex:

Sexual Orientation:

Ethnicity:

Employment (At start of story):

Education (Degrees, Certificates, ect..):

Religion:

Physical Characteristics:

Height:
Weight:

Eye color:

Hair:

Skin:

Body Type:

Appearance:

Physical Health:

Disabilities:

Psychological Attributes:

Ability(ies):

Mental Health:

Inner Life/Patterns of Thought:

Sexual Potency:

Shadow sides/Difficulties in living:

Worldview:

Life of Character:

History:

Childhood:

Teenage/Adolescent Years:

Adult Years (major events non-employment and education related):

Employment History:

Education (if any) History:

Family Members:

Consequences of upbringing:

Moral Valence/Ethics/Ideologies:

Dreams and Ambitions:

Cultural component:

Living their Life at Present Day (at start of story):

Actions and Reactions to Events and/or Society Values:

Recreational Activities:

Where Character is at Start of Story/Novel:

Friends:

Relationships:

Motivations:

Core Need:

What the character desires most:

How does the character fulfill that desire:

Biggest Conflict for the character in the Story:

How the character deals with this Conflict:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I try to fill out the above for each of my main protagonists and antagonists.  I often refer back to it to help center myself on who these characters are, while I’m writing.  The last section, motivations, was one a friend on Legendfire came up with, and let me borrow. It’s proven very beneficial for helping me determine where my characters are at the start of the story, and where they wish to be by the end — does it mean they’ll achieve that?  Not always, for their motivations will undoubtedly change due to the circumstances that befall them on their journey, but detailing the conflict they are facing and ways they may deal with it, certainly does help me avoid writing myself into a corner.

Categories: Author, Characters, WritingTags: , , , ,

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