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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Ultimate Character Inventory for Building Genuine Characters

If thousands of hours of editing has taught me one thing, it's that most of the changes made to a manuscript, and most of what makes a story strong, is in creating realistic characters. This shows through when
1) everything your character says is true to who he is
2) all of the verbage used to describe his actions fits his character (the difference between a 'pranceing' or 'sauntering' character, for example)

3) his actions follow his values and personality
4) one can imagine his past/future/present by knowing the information you’ve given

It is aso, it is crucial that your character is complex, and that he breaks the boundaries of his usual traits to become a more rounded person. For example:

1) The quiet character who hides her feelings but then places them all in art/writing/music.
2) The loud character faced with a situation that has left him unable to talk about his feelings.
3) The calm character who, after dealing with too much, becomes suddenly furious.

4) The martinet who finds a vice in _____.

Of course, these also have to be believable. BUT, if you follow all of these things, your characters should read as genuine people who readers will find interest in and relate to. Below are a variety of tables to help you get a better grasp on who your character is. Half are simple, circle which answer applies, tables, and the others allow you to fill in the blanks.
Is your character:


Loud
Or
Quiet
Emotive
Or
nonchalant
Impatient
Or
Patient
Spiritual
Or
Not spiritual
Easily angered
Or
Calm
More artistic
Or
More logical
Romantic
Or
Not romantic
The jealous type
Or
Not easily jealous
Pretentious
Or
Grounded
Optimistic
Or
Pessimistic
More arrogant
Or
More humble
Open-minded
Or
Insular
Trusting
Or
Suspicious
Faithful
Or
Unfaithful
Power hungry
Or
Not
 
Does your character


Say what's on his mind
Or
Cover up his feelings
Act impulsively
Or
Overthink situations
Want to be swept off his feet
Or
Want to be in control
Keep secrets
Or
Believe honesty is the best policy
Focus on the past or future
Or
Stay grounded in the present
Rely on friends
Or
Keep to himself
Have many good friends
Or
Just a few close ones
Have a fresh view on life
Or
A jaded view
Care what others think
Or
Do whatever he/she wants
Think of life as a puzzle
Or
An untameable adventure
The following are fill in the blanks, but for the 1st one, I gave examples from various characters in my manuscripts.

 
Your character believes that:


Lying is…

never okay
Hurting others is…

necessary to keep them in their place
Being happy is…

impossible
Being alone is…

good every once and a while to stay grounded
Friends are…

how we survive
Love is…

everything now that I've found her
Rules are…

meant to be broken
Mysteries are..

meant to be left alone.


Character's First:

Love:

Heartbreak:

Adventure:

Puzzle/Real Quandary:



Your Character would:
Give up everything for:
Say his motto is:
Question everything if:
Fall in love with/if:
Lose his mind if:
Act opposite his character if:
Say he is who he is because of:
Say he wakes up every morning because:
Blame his shortcomings on:

For more ideas for character development you may want to check out :
Why Your Rough Draft Still Doesn't Feel Right and How to Fix It

Click for The Ultimate Manuscript Editing Checklist

Good Luck!

And please feel free to leave more ideas via comments!

<3 Gina Blechman

2 comments:

  1. I'll have to check this out later when I have more time. It looks interesting.

    .........dhole

    ReplyDelete