Saturday, 13 June 2009

Character Groundwork

For Creative Writing:

The idea behind filling this out is not to have information to use in your story (though it’s accessible at a moment’s notice if need be), but so they you understand your character and his/her motivations better and can then create more realistic relationships, decisions, and conversations.
For each of these questions, you can always add “Why?”

Appearance: (Height, body type, attractiveness)
Mode of transportation: (If car, what model? How well kept? How often repaired? How financed?)
Neat or sloppy? Neat at work, sloppy at home? Neat kitchen, sloppy bedroom?
Clothing: (variation between occasions? How afforded? Where bought? What style? How often change clothes, launder?)
How long does it take for them to get ready in the morning? Why?
Family history: parents names, occupations, origins, ages? Grandparents? How conscious is the character of all of this?
Friends: names, occupations, origins, ages? How did they become friends? What do they do together? How do they relate? (Even for friends who never appear in story.)
Significant other(s): see above. What sorts of people do they date? How do they understand their relationships?
Home town: still living there? How often moved?
Religion: In which religion was character raised? Still practice the same one? How seriously do they take it? How public are they about it? How serious is their home environment about it? Which church/temple/mosque/synagogue do they attend (and how often)?
Job: Is it a job or career? How dedicated? How much do they like it? How long do they plan on staying in this job stream? How much have they thought about it?
Living arrangements: Apartment, house, duplex, townhouse, trailer, commune, homeless, residence? Rent or own? How financed? With whom do they live?
Politics: political leanings? Are they partisan? What are their hot-button issues? How involved are they? How informed? How vocal?
Hobbies and Talents: is there any overlap? (ie. are they good at their hobbies?)
Pets: how many? How often? As kids? Which kind? How do they treat them? How important are their pets to them?
Philosophy of life: do they follow any movements? Any role models? Any catch-phrases or sayings? How good are they at ‘living’ their philosophies? Optimistic, pessimistic, middle-road?
Music: genres and artists? How often do they listen to music? When and for what reason? How seriously do they take music? Buy, download? Can they play?
Books, movies, art: answer same questions as for music, especially if they are important to character
Eating: well? What cuisine? Cook, order, eat out? Favourite snack when happy? Favourite snack when depressed? Least favourite vegetable? Favourite junk food? Binge or starve? What do they drink? How often? Do they eat differently in company than when alone? Food restrictions (ie. religious reasons, philosophical reasons, allergies)?
Reactions: to being surprised? To being insulted? To being disadvantaged? To being attacked? To being disgusted? To failing? To succeeding? To making a mistake? To being afraid? To being complimented? To being criticized? To be overworked? To being seduced? To being rejected? To martyring themselves? To being martyred for? To attention? To being ignored? To being wrong? To being right?
Flaws: what flaws do they know they have? What flaws do they not know they have? What traits do other people think are flaws but actually aren’t?
Habits: good and bad. What do they do without knowing it? Chew nails? Say ‘um’? Look away when they lie? Snort when they laugh? Wrap their fingers on the table? Counting things they see? Reading anything they see? Scratching? Biting their lips? Forgetting names? Saying people’s names too often when talking to them?
Fears: what are they afraid of (corporeal and abstract)? How do they deal with these fears?


Jon Wong said...


Cait said...

you're amazing Christian. Seriously amazing. Thank you for posting this.

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