Mini Character-Development Sheet

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

Name:

  • Purpose in story*:
  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Friend
  • Rival
  • Mentor
  • Love interest
  • Symbol
  • Other

If one asks the character, s/he would give these answers:

  • Best physical feature?
  • Worst physical feature?
  • Best trait?
  • Worst trait?
  • Proudest moment(s)?
  • Darkest moments(s)?
  • I am most ashamed of…
  • … makes me happier than anything else
  • Biggest vice?
  • Best gift to give myself?
  • Best gift to give someone else?
  • Best advice received?
  • Best or most often given advice?
  • Skill I have that no one knows about?
  • The secret(s) I would never tell anyone…
  • The secret someone knows… (and who knows it and how I feel about them knowing)
  • If I could get away with it, I would…
  • Best surprise?
  • Worst surprise?
  • Illnesses, allergies, phobias, etc.?
  • I am ashamed of…
  • I am proud of…
  • I am right about…
  • I may be wrong about…
  • … makes me angry enough to lose control
  • If I feel myself overwhelmed by emotion, I…
  • When I am alone, I…
  • When I am surrounded by others, I…
  • … knows my true nature, which is…
  • Traits I admire in others?
  • Traits I despise in others?
  • Nothing could be worse than being seen as…
  • Nothing could be better than being seen as…
  • My relationship with my mother is/was…
  • My relationship with my father is/was…
  • My first romantic relationship was…
  • Most influential relationship?
  • Worst decision?
  • Best decision?
  • … is typical of me (a decision, trait, circumstance, etc.)
  • Anything else I would want people to know (or not know) about me?

As the author, you would give these answers about this character:

  • Best physical feature?
  • Worst physical feature?
  • Best trait?
  • Worst trait?
  • Proudest moment(s)?
  • Darkest moments(s)?
  • He/she is most ashamed of…
  • … makes him/her happier than anything else
  • Biggest vice?
  • Best gift to give self?
  • Best gift to give someone else?
  • Best advice received?
  • Best or most often given advice?
  • Skill s/he has that no one knows about?
  • The secret(s) s/he would never tell anyone…
  • The secret someone knows… (and who knows it and how s/he feels about them knowing)
  • If s/he could get away with it, s/he would…
  • Best surprise?
  • Worst surprise?
  • Illnesses, allergies, phobias, etc.?
  • S/he is ashamed of…
  • S/he is proud of…
  • S/he is right about…
  • S/he is wrong about…
  • … makes him/her angry enough to lose control
  • If s/he feels overwhelmed by emotion…
  • When alone, s/he…
  • When surrounded by others, s/he…
  • … knows his/her true nature, which is…
  • Traits admired in others?
  • Traits despised in others?
  • Nothing could be worse than being seen as…
  • Nothing could be better than being seen as…
  • Relationship with mother is/was…
  • Relationship with father is/was…
  • First romantic relationship was…
  • Most influential relationship?
  • Best decision?
  • Worst decision?
  • … is typical of him/her

My opinion of this character is…

  • I like… (about the character)
  • I dislike…
  • What did the character determine about him/herself?
  • What have I imposed on this character?
  • The character is unique because…
  • The character’s greatest attribute is…
  • The character’s greatest flaw in terms of the story and/or effect on other characters is…
  • Other notes about my the character

*Elaborate on any of these; feel free to fill in names of other characters and how they relate to this one. For example, this sheet may be about the protagonist’s best friend, Kelly. Kelly may have a rival, maybe a common rival w/ the protagonist. Go ahead and fill in that info if it helps you determine Kelly’s character.

Fun With Names

A Pen In Each Hand

By Bonnets

In this month’s AB article Trenton Lee Smith discussed how he named characters and places in The Mysterious Benedict Society: ” It began with wanting to make the names distinctive and memorable, then developed into an enjoyable exercise in making most of the names hint at or reflect something deeper, such as a personality trait or a thematic joke.”

Write a character sketch, or describe a fictional place with a name that reflects a personality trait or thematic joke.

Be a Mentor

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

In my interview with Steve Simpson, he talks about the importance of his writing mentors to his success. This month’s challenge is to give back to the writing community by doing something to encourage another writer: give some constructive feedback, offer some helpful advice, share a useful website, buy a book you love for a writer friend, pay for a writing class for someone who can’t afford it… the list goes on.

Comic Inspiration

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

Exercise #1: Read a comic or graphic novel. Pay attention to the marriage of image and prose. Try writing six panels worth of a story. If it clicks, keep going.

Exercise #2: Ask a writing buddy to do a collaborative project. It could be an article, a scene for a play or a fractured fairy tale. Try different approaches and see what works. Publish it!

Exercise #3: If you usually submit to electronic journals, research print journals and send something out. Buy a few small press journals, read them and pass them along to other writers.

Storify It!

A Pen In Each Hand

By The Bellman

Look at the opening page of a non-fiction book. Does the author use any fiction techniques to engage the reader?

If so, list those techniques, and think about how effective each one was and how each affected the way you viewed the information.

If not, or if you can’t tell, try rewriting one or two paragraphs in a way that does use some fiction techniques. Compare your rewrite with the original: which do you think gets the main idea across more effectively?