Character Development: How Well Do You Know Your Characters?


Character Development: How well do you know your characters? article on XterraWebYou can’t write a good story without knowing basic facts about your characters. How will readers know your characters if you don’t? Character development plays an important part in how well you know your characters. The more you know your characters, the fuller and more believable they will be. You want to bring your characters to life and make them “real.”

Characters are made up of the physiological, the sociological, and the psychological. The physiological includes the physical description and basic functioning of a character. The sociological includes how a character relates to others and the world, circumstances that affected him/her, economic status, childhood, and educational background. The psychological includes feelings, moods, life experiences, motivators, rationalization, thought processes, and past events.

A character’s personality comes from these things and is made up of the behaviors, emotions, thoughts, and feelings that make him or her unique. To make a character more memorable, you should know your character better.

Creating a character profile is one way to learn more about your character and what makes him/her what he/she is. Here are some categories and information you can use to build a character profile and learn more about your characters.

Character Profile Categories

  • Basic Statistics and Background
    • Name
    • Age
    • Hometown
    • Current residence
    • Occupation
    • Skills
    • Hobbies
    • Parents and family
    • Friends and enemies
  • Physical Characteristics
    • Height and weight
    • Body shape/build
    • Hair color
    • Eye color
    • Skin color
    • Clothing style
  • Emotional Characteristics
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Introvert or extrovert
    • Motivators
    • Fears
    • Goals
    • Conflicts
    • Changes
    • How does the character deal with or respond to emotions (anger, elation, sadness, etc.)
  • Speech & Language/Communication
    • Accent/dialect
    • Voice tone (harsh, loud, whiny, soft, etc.)
    • Vocabulary and speech pattern (vulgar, educated, average, precise, pretentious, uneducated)
    • Demeanor (shy, moody, volatile, confident, easygoing)
    • Favorite words and/or phrases
    • Curse words
    • Posture (rigid, stiff, relaxed, slouches, etc.)
    • Gestures (e.g., clenched fists, biting nails, waving hands; how often are they used; when are they used – only in response to certain situations/emotions)
  • Character’s Role
    • Main character
    • Secondary character
    • Hero or heroine
    • Protagonist or antagonist
    • Romantic interest
    • Relationships with other characters
  • Psychological Motivations
    • Physical needs
    • Emotional needs
    • Self-esteem (positive or negative image)
    • Friends and types of friendships
    • Parents – relationships and feelings
    • Fears
    • Hopes, dreams, goals
    • Defining strength
    • Tells lies? About what? For what reason(s)?


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