Character Development

Back in 8th grade, I had a bunch of creative friends and a few of them decided to allow friends to create characters for their stories (this is cool in some ways, but also gets you things like Kokuei, whose hair color I couldn’t just leave simple… “black hair… with green bangs… with blue streaks… and white tips”).

I decided to take this a step further since my parents had a nice new computer and printer, and I made up a form.  I started having friends design characters for… the project devoutly-to-be-hidden-away-from-the-light-of-day (my boyfriend is supposed to love me.  Even he laughed in my face.  If it were a drinking game where you do a shot every time you laugh, you’d be hospitalized by page 10.  More on that here, if you like.).

I have long since lost my character development sheet, but it was to the effect of:

  • Character basics: name, race, age
  • Character-istics: height, hair color, eye color, tattoos, scars, etc.
  • Character quirks: accent, rampant phobia of butterflies (seriously, why did anyone let me make characters for them?), etc.
  • Character favorites: food, drink, color, etc.
  • Character back story: origins, goals, motivations, etc.

The only reason I bring this up is because michelelishka, on my previous post, mentioned not actively developing characters… and I realized I haven’t done that in a long time either. And then I realized that might be why I find myself currently losing track of who characters are.

My project, The Bizarre, has a collection of central, named characters that all speak at one time or another.  I find myself all too often deciding “so and so talks now,” and then realizing later that I have to go back and re-write it in that character’s voice.  I have an ex-military half-elf who is definitely not written that way for most of her dialogue, for example.

In another project, The Worldtree Trilogy, all the characters subscribe to the same religion and are actually pretty bland as individuals.  I’d like them not to be, but I know so little about them that it’s hard to make them really feel unique.  It’s hard to step into the shoes and write from the perspective of someone whose shoes you haven’t designed yet.

Maybe if I had made a character sheet for each of them, this would be easier.

What do you do to keep in touch with your characters, or do you find it unnecessary?

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