Character Development Worksheet

As both a writer and avid reader, I feel a fully fleshed-out, three dimensional character is the single most essential element to any good story. A character who comes alive on the page is a character your readership will invest in.
So how to you create a three-dimensional character? How do you bring this new person to life? Well, you gotta find their voice. And in order to find their voice, you have to understand what makes them tick.
How a person reacts to the world around them is often rooted in their prior experiences. What they’ve been exposed to in their past will shape how they navigate their present. I’ve put together this Character Development Worksheet to help understand how our characters process the world. I’ve tried to arrange these questions in an order which will facilitate a growing understanding of your character as your go down the list. Some questions I’ve expounded, but you can download a blank version of the worksheet at the bottom of the page.

 

CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT WORKSHEET

Age
Gender
Appearance
Occupation
Education
Training
Skills

GENERAL

Are parents alive
Socio-economic status Poor? Wealthy? Middle Class?
What kind of relationship does character have with parents A good relationship with parents will set the stage for emotional stability in a character’s life.
Were healthy relationships modeled for character Did mom and dad love each other? Respect each other and treat each other with kindness? Has your character seen someone demonstrate positive relationship practices? Do they have a high standard with which they can measure their own relationships?
Other positive authority figures
Negative authority figures
Has character been exposed to abuse
Has character been abused
Religious influences Religion/faith often shapes morality (For good or ill) and values.
Childhood living conditions
Most traumatic childhood incident
Best childhood memory
Proudest childhood moment
Greatest accomplishment in childhood
Greatest childhood loss
Best childhood friend
Social mores of childhood What was considered “right” and “wrong” in the society in which your character was raised?
Women role models in childhood What did these women do for a living? What kind of people were they?
Male role models in childhood Same^^
Person most admired in childhood
Greatest disappointment in childhood
Childhood fear
Most precious childhood possession

 

CHARACTER TO-DATE AT STORY’S BEGINNING

 

Greatest trauma
Greatest fear
Greatest guilt
Greatest regret
Greatest self-doubt
Greatest conflict
Resentments held
Enemies
Greatest achievement
Proudest moment
Most selfless act
Greatest confidence
Friends

WHAT ARE CHARACTERS VIEWS ON:

Sexuality Are they open and sex-positive? A prude? Ridged? Judgemental of others’ sexual practices? Is sex taboo? Is it scary? Are they curious?
Family Does your character want a family? Do they put value in having a family?
Government Does your character trust and respect the government? Are they suspicious of those in power? Do they see their rulers as allies or enemies?
Religion How does your character view religion? Do they think religion is a crock? Are they pious? How much of their actions are rooted in their faith? Remember, historically, faith has driven more men to war than any other motivator.
War How does your character feel about war and killing? Is it justifiable? Are they a pacifist?

IS CHARACTER TOLERANT/INTOLERANT OF THOSE DIFFERENT FROM HERSELF?

HAS CHARACTER EVER:

Been in love
Kissed
Had sexual intercourse
Had a child
Lost a loved one
Cheated
Lied
Stole
Been in battle
Killed
Feared for their life
Starved
Been assaulted Physically? Sexually?
Assaulted another

 

WHAT ARE YOUR CHARACTER’S

Hobbies
Talents
Good Habits Get up every morning and make their bed? Always use good manners?
Bad Habits Do they drink themselves to sleep every night? Do they whine all the time?
Character flaws Are they prone to jealousy? Short tempered? Perpetually negative?
Character attributes Are they courageous? Selfless? Loyal?
Love/crush Is there someone who’s captured their heart or turned their head?
Who does you character admire most?
Who does your character despise the most?
Career aspirations Where do they see themselves in five years? What do they want to do with their lives?
Interpersonal conflicts  Who do your characters not get along with and why?

 

PERSONALITY

Humor Do they have a good sense of humor? What would make your character laugh?
Temperament Are they quick to anger? Do they “stuff” the little things until they lose it and blow up in a giant fit of rage? Are they patient? Does it take a lot to ruffle their feathers?
Secret indulgences What does your character enjoy when no one else is watching?
Favorite things
Aversions

 

INTERNAL CONFLICTS

What are the lies the character believes about herself?
Okay, so this is huge. One of the most powerful character arc is overcoming these kinds of lies. Lies like: I’ll never be good enough or I’m unlovable or It’s my fault all this awful stuff happened. These lies our characters believes limits them. A strong arc will have them working through those lies, in essence, discovering the truth about themselves.

Is the character in denial about aspects of herself?

How does the character hold herself back?

What does the character have yet to discover about herself?

What will set the character free from herself?

What does the character want the most? This is the heart and soul of your story, the underlying driving force behind every single action they take.

What is keeping her from obtaining it?

 

CHARACTER AT THE STORY’S END

Greatest trauma
Greatest fear
Greatest guilt
Greatest regret
Greatest self-doubt
Greatest conflict
Resentments held
Enemies
Greatest achievement
Proudest moment
Most selfless act
Greatest confidence
Friends

WHAT ARE CHARACTERS VIEWS ON:
Sexuality
Family
Government
Religion
War

IS CHARACTER TOLERANT/INTOLERANT OF THOSE DIFFERENT FROM HERSELF

HAS CHARACTER:

Been in love
Kissed
Had sexual intercourse
Had a child
Lost a loved one
Cheated
Lied
Stole
Been in battle
Killed
Feared for their life
Starved
Been assaulted
Assaulted another

 

CURRENT

Hobbies
Talents
Good Habits
Bad Habits
Character flaws
Character attributes
Convictions of faith
Love/crush
Who they admire the most
Who they despise the most
Career aspirations
Interpersonal conflicts

PERSONALITY

Humor
Temperament
Secret indulgences
Favorite things
Aversions

INTERNAL CONFLICTS

What are the lies the character believes about herself?

Is the character in denial about aspects of herself?

How does the character hold herself back?

What does the character have yet to discover about herself?

What will set the character free from herself?

What does the character want the most?

What is keeping her from obtaining it?

Take note on the differences between the start-of-the-story answers and the end-of-the-story answers. Those changes are what makes your character dynamic. Stagnant characters are not only boring, they don’t read as real.

 

You can download a blank copy of the Character Development Worksheet here.

If you’d like to join the Fantasy Circle, you can find our community here.

 

 

 

 

 

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