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10.12.2012 14:47    Comments: 0    Categories: Writing Characters  Fiction Elements  Fiction Writing  Writing  Writing Craft      Tags: h. thomas milhorn  writing  genre  fiction  guide  craft  chart  

Character Chart (From Chapter 11 of Writing Genre Fiction: A Guide to the Craft by H.T. Milhorn)

 

A useful way to “learn” more about your characters is to fill out a character chart for each of them—at least for the more important ones. It’s a great deal more information than you will actually use in your novel, but it will help you as a writer to understand your characters more fully as people. With experience, you will be able to selectively fill out only those portions of the chart you feel will be pertinent to your character.

 

NAME
Full Name? Nickname?
Reason for Nickname?
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
Age? How old does character look?
Height? Weight?
Type of body build? Eye color?
Glasses or contact lens? Hair color?
Wears hair how? Balding?
Shape of face? Distinguishing marks?
Predominant features? Right or left handed?
FAVORITES
Favorite color(s)? Favorite foods?
Favorite music? Favorite books?
Favorite clothes (work, leisure, formal)? Favorite movies?
HABITS
Smokes? Drinks?
What brand? What brand?
When smokes? When drinks?
How much does character smokes? How much does character drink?
Other vices (sweets, swearing, spending, gambling)?
HOBBIES/LEISURE ACTIVITIES
Hobbies? Recreation?
How often does character participate? With whom?
BACKGROUND
Hometown? Type of childhood?
Race/ethnic background? Education?
Past relationships? How did relationships end?
Financial status growing up? Degree of activity with religion?
Most important childhood events that still affect character?
FAMILY
Married/divorced/children? If divorced, paying child support?
Mother's name? Father?
Type of work mother does/did? Type of work father does/did?
Relationship with mother? Relationship with father?
Siblings? Aunts/uncles/grandparents/nieces/nephews?
Relationship with siblings? Relationships with them?
ATTITUDE
When most at ease? When most ill at ease?
Priorities? Philosophy of life?
Desires? Thankful for?
How does character feel about oneself? How does character feels about others?
Embarrassing past failures? Manners/social graces?
PERSONALITY
Greatest source of strength in personality,
whether self recognized or not?
Weakest source of strength in personality,
whether self recognized or not?
Soft spot? How does character react to adversity?
How does act when angry? What regrets does have?
Sense of humor (dry, weird, earthy)?
TRAITS
Optimist/pessimist? Introvert/extrovert?
Drives/motivations? Talents?
Positive characteristics? Flaws?
Mannerisms? Peculiarities?
Biggest regrets? Biggest accomplishments?
Darkest secrets?
SELF-PERCEPTION
How does character describe self? What does character consider his/her worst physical characteristic?
How does character think others perceive self? What does character consider his/her best physical characteristic?
What physical or mental traits would character change about self? Is character's assessment of these physical characteristics realistic?
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS
How does character relate to others? How is character perceived by strangers, friends, family members, fellow workers, lover?
What do friends/family like most about character? Most important person in character's life before book starts?
What do friends/family like least about character? Most important person in character's life after book starts?
GOALS
Immediate personal and professional goals? Long-range personal and professional goals?
How does character plan to accomplish these goals?
PROBLEMS/CRISES
How does character face problems? How does character react in a crisis?
What kind of problems does character usually have? How does character handle change?
PERSONAL
Favorite kind of clothes? Least favorite clothes?
Jewelry and what kind? Where would character like to live and why?
Spending habits (frugal, spendthrift)? Religion and degree of participation?
Who does character secretly admire and why? Person that character is most influenced by and why?
Most prized possession? How did character spend the week before book starts?
Pets, what kind and names? Method of transportation? What make and model?
Home (house, apartment, own, rent)? Profession/income?
Talents (piano player, juggler, poetry writer)? Special skills (carpentry, race car driving, marksman)?
Medical problems? Hangs out where?
Nervous habits? Sexual orientation?
Typical daily schedule?

 

References


  1. Tritt, Sandy, Character trait chart and personality components, Elements of craft, Inspiration for Writers, http://www.inspirationforwriters.com/tip8.html, 2001.
  2. McCleod, Carol, Character Chart, http://www.simegen.com/romance/charchart.html.
  3. Schnelbach, Susan D. and Christopher Scott Wyatt, Tameri Guide for Writers, http://www.tameri.com.
 
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