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Character Development Question


Does anyone know a good questionnaire for a write to work on to help develop a character? I know there's really no hard and fast form so to speak. I'm just looking for something that will make me question things about the character as the writer. Look at where they start, where they end, how did they, as a person, grow and learn from the events in the story. Basically something to help me develop a solid character outline.


Look at the ad above your post. I'm pretty sure that's the Mythic Scribes' administrator's (Black Dragon's) book on how to make characters. I've heard good things.

EDIT: it's funny, your post inspired me to check it out again and I bought it. It was on sale (at least for prime accounts) only $2.99
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I personally like to set up profiles for my characters. The profiles start with basic info (appearance, weapons, skills, nationality, etc.). As the sections of the profile progress, they dig deeper into the character. For example, I'll go from the things I mentioned before to things like goals, motivations, allies, enemies, personality traits, and whatnot. The more that I fill out on said profile, the more ideas I get about the character, and the more it begins to take shape. After a while the blanks start filling themselves in.
Flaws, flaws, flaws! Make sure they have their flaws! Characters who are just 'nice' or 'perfect' aren't relate-able by the reader. Even though we're all nice people here :).

If the character is a protagonist or antagonist then their flaw is VERY important for the story.

For each character I write I try to consider the following:
1. An overall archetype or who they remind me of - someone in real life or in a movie say. This gives me an overall image.
2. Language - how do they speak? What distinctive language do they use? are they blunt, evasive, dismissive, slangy
3. History - important things in their backstory, things that happened to them but also choices they made
4. Appearance - distinctive features but also does their appearance affect them, eg how people view them/treat them (including themselves) - compare Tyrion to Jaime Lannister in their looks and how people view them and how they view themselves
5. Thoughts - what key things are in their mind that are important (eg worry about bad business, their brother's machinations, their need to bear a child, how their father never loved them etc etc)
6. Flaw - what is their character flaw, the internal thing that they struggle with
7. Restrictions - what external things do they struggle with - eg class, language, disability, curse - this can make the character sympathetic
8. Spine - the essence of what they need eg Al Pacino's character in The Godfather needs his father's approval.
It's more endeavored than a simple checklist I think. I browsed the Mythic Scribes Character Dev books' table of contents and I liked what I saw. Archetypes are integral in identifying with the audience, but a certain amount of originality there wouldn't be uncalled for either. There was material there I had never heard of and I intend to pick up a copy myself, but if I were going to make one, it'd be something like this, and I think there are two basic categories to create which hold all the others:

Strengths & Flaws generically applying to physical features, what tie in's do they have to the character as foreshadowing or sublimation? Emotoinally and psychologically, what attributed strengths and flaws encompass your character?

- fears
-areas of excellence
-intentions emotionally, then motivations logically

History & experience - these I don't think are the same, you can have been somewhere and never known a damn thing about it, like a pitstop on a roadtrip. Your building a world for your reader's to indulge in, but you need a world that your character is enveloped in at the beginning of their journey and that changes by the end of their journey both the world and the character.

-work experience

I suppose you can add a third area that allows a specific kind of tailoring of your character, influences. These are evident in a characters history and psychology, but you can't outline a predictable character because I promise you you'll hit the delete key on a whole paragraph or two before your book is finished.

So if your character is a dichotomy of results (their personality [primary] versus their experiences [secondary]), then their influences are tertiary factors. Influences are what they want to be influenced by.

This creates a circle for your character, they think and feel according to who they are, based on what they know, but ultimately according to an egoistic logic of influence. (kind of screwed up Freud).