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Do You Have A Character Creation Cheat Sheet?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Queshire, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Say that for some reason you suddenly find yourself needing a workable medium to major character in, say, ten minutes. How would you go about doing it? I RP a lot so this is more likely to come up with that than actually writing, but I still think coming up with a quick method would be useful for writing and I'm curious to see how others do it.
  2. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Archmage

    Well if you writing downs notes I suppose I should do it something like this. And then probably add categories depending on the social context and stuff. A noble in a feudal settings will probably need some categories that a master craftsman in a steampunk setting would not need, and vice versa.



    Skin color
    Hair color
    Eye color
    Facial description
    Body build
    Notes on appearence

    Notes on personality
    Defensive reaction

    Social background
    Economical background
    Long ago history
    Recent history
    Background notes

    Social context
    Disliked by
    Social standing
    Notes on social context
  3. Peat

    Peat Sage

    If I realise I need a character without one having jumped out at me (normally the character comes before the need for me), I basically work out what sort of character I need, then bash together some mix of the following:

    Previous characters of mine
    Previous characters of others
    Historical figures
    People I know

    Until I've got something that seems cool and useful.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    With every major character I only need to answer a few basic questions.

    What do they want physical?
    What do they want emotionally?
    And why?

    Everything else I fill in on the fly based on what's necessary. Usually I'll have a feel on how I want the character presented but otherwise I don't delve too much into the minutia.
    FifthView likes this.
  5. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

    I do appearance, beliefs and profession. Lol if I could draw I would draw them, but alas I can't. When ever I come down with a block on my novel, I'll go do some world building, and that normally means working on a character. That always clears it away, and when I'm finished I have some more info on my world I didn't have.

    Mostly I let the story shape them, since I write very organic, so Its really whatever I feel or what the story needs.

    If I needed a character in ten minutes, I would first need the story outline. Then I would stare off into space thinking, and when an Idea hit, free write like mad about that new inspiration. Editing and moping up of the character can come later, it's good to get the vital facts down as quickly as possible.

    Of course I wouldn't suggest my method, its very erratic, but it works for me.
  6. cydare

    cydare Minstrel

    My sheet is basically like Gurkhal's, only I also add a couple of scenes that help me get into the character's head. I choose a few topics from a list I've compiled or make up new ones, and write short notes to expand them. Here are some examples:

    - Their morning routine from the time they wake up to the time they officially start their day
    - A prized object of any kind and why it is important
    - Their reaction to being cheated (by a merchant, during a game, etc)
    - A relaxing day for them
    - If they are suddenly responsible for a child for a day
    - Creative passtime they are most likely to undertake
    - Sleeping patterns
    - Bluffing their way out of a dangerous situation
    - When the bluff doesn't work

    Little things that inspire me.
  7. I have a really cool interview sheet, that is a proven method of cracking open a character. Unfortunately, characters don't often open up to me enough for me to be able to answer all the questions. Also, it takes lots of time.

    If i need a character on the fly, i come up with a picture in my mind and a name. When i start writing with it, often they grow on their own from there.
  8. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

    This is mine. The most important for me is their weaknesses/flaws and motivation.

  9. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    It might be helpful to keep track of secondary characters if you start piling up a lot of them, but when it comes to giving the reader information about them in the story it's better to be brief. You see a list of all these unique traits and aspects of their appearance on your CS sheet and feel tempted to just fill the reader in on all of that detail.
  10. Carolyn

    Carolyn Acolyte

    I actually collect characters. I have reams and reams of character names, and if I've only got a few minutes (in the midst of cooking dinner lets say) or when a story isn't coming together for me, I'll flesh them out. I have interview questions that I keep a master file of, which has been compiled from snippets of real interviews I've heard and some seen around the web. I've tweaked my Master Character interview until it works best for me. So as I'm having a conversation with a character, sometimes their physical being will come together, sometimes just parts of their personality. But I find a lot of the answers depend on the story. One of my favorite original characters developed out of an original walk-on I had in a fanfic. She evolved into a tough kick-ass terrorist hunter, and her personality is formed by her job.
    Sometimes, I start with a name, sometimes with an image, or even just eye color.

    My list of characters is dozens of characters long, so if I needed a character in a hurry, I would simply turn to my list.
  11. I have many characters that have continued to lurk in my mind, growing there over time but as yet have no story to inhabit.

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