Checklist for character development.
Created by myself, compiled from questions gleaned from several sources, and some of my own additions.
See it in action: HERE
It should be noted, that not every character will check every one of these things off. It is not REQUIRED to have all this information, but this checklist is, rather, a guideline for helping you think of your character as an entire, three dimentional being with thoughts, feelings, possessions, contradictions and background.
A character is 20% revealed to the reader, 80% writer/author/Mun knowledge. What the Reader sees is just the tip of the iceburg, but without the other 80% the character can’t help but come off feeling shallow. There’s nothing beneath the surface - KNOWING as much bout your character as possible, instrinsicly, in detail, intimately, can do nothing but help build believability and dimension to your character.
Use only the things on this list that you feel are important, but I would like to remind you that the reader learns a lot about a character NOT through exposition (that’s kind of a cheat, and always feels , to me, like a rather clunky way of conveying knowlege), but through their actions, quirks, thoughts, and even through the things they own and carry with them. What kind of food they eat and how they eat it. What they wear. What they carry in their wallets. I encourage you, as writers, to consider these things when creating a character, and encourage you MORE to leave the exposition out and tell us about your character through these other means!
If nothing else, this will give you a LOT to work with when writing with your character. Maybe it’ll spur you to write about the character’s parents. Or the relationship between them and their family. Maybe you’ll find yourself inspired to write something about how they lost everything in a fire - and the importance each remembered lost item held.
There is certainly no rule that says you HAVE to do it this way, but invariably, the most memorable characters are the ones that we as readers can relate with. It’s hard to relate with just words - but people - with beliefs and dreams and fears - that’s something we can get behind.
I certainly hope you find this useful, and since so many have been inclined to reblog and like this, I shall endeavor to add more character creation and writing tips, lists and excercises up on this blog!
Edit: Because there were requests for a Medieval and Fantasy version of this list, I have created one HERE.
I hope you find it as useful as this one!