When I’m staring at a blank page, eyes unfocused, fingers drooping over the keyboard, sometimes I realize I’m just not going to get any drafting done today. That’s when I
procrastinate turn to other exercises that help me develop my novel. One technique I like is to do a character sheet, where I examine different aspects of my character. There are tons of great resources out there for building a character sheet, with questions on everything from eye color to family trauma (which no truly great character is without.)
Here are a few of my contributions to a well rounded character sheet:
1. What is a metaphor or description central to your character’s being?
2. What is the most memorable sentence your character says?
3. Pick the three most important words used to describe your character.
4. What is your character’s alignment? (For those of you who aren’t complete nerds, alignment is a Dungeons and Dragons measure of morality that I find useful because it is both relatively comprehensive and simple to understand. Check it out here.)
5. What is the most beautiful thing your character has ever seen?
6. What is your character’s role in driving the story?
7. What role does your character play in the resolution of the story arc?
8. What does your character think of the protagonist? (Or if they are the protagonist, what do they think of themselves?)
9. What does your character want for Christmas?
10. What superpower would your character have?
11. What does your character have in their pocket?
Another great way to build up your characters (or break them down) is to run them through a few personality tests. Here are a few recommendations.
If you think of a great question to add to this list, leave a comment and let me know. I’m always trying to find new ways to develop my characters.