Monday, February 6, 2012

What's inside your characters?

For the purpose of this post, you must have seen the Breakfast Club. Just kidding.
You just need basic knowledge of the characters. Do you remember them?

Basket Case

 What made them memorable?
One great scene we get to know the Breakfast Club was lunchtime. The Athlete had a humongous lunch; the Princess had sushi; the Basket Case had a Capn Crunch sandwich.
What else? The way they dressed. Language. Who they sat by. The way they walked and talked.

How can we make our characters stand out in our stories?
I found one worksheet that I LOVE. A big shout out to Josi Kilpack! I'm using her characterization worksheet today.  I've been able to flesh out my characters so much more internally and externally. If you can take a class from her on this, I advise doing it. I learned a ton from her.
I'm not going to give everything on her worksheet here but I will tell you the main things I do with my characterizations.


What is the primary goal of your character? Love, money, power, security, absolution, revenge or justice. Everything your character does is affected by one of those. If their goal is to have security, everything they do will be geared toward this goal. Every path taken will be aimed at having security.
If security is the primary goal, what is the secondary? The character might believe that money gives security.
NOW! How do these two goals clash or create conflict? Maybe the character has money but trusts no one and therefore, doesn't feel safe and secure (because he got the money by robbing a bank).
Does your character have a motivating fear? They might fear they aren't lovable. Or they are a serial killer. That would take away a little bit of security, wouldn't it?
What happens to your character to change them? What is the point of change? Do they learn that riches come with a price?
What do they discover about themselves? The might learn they are a good person and don't need money to be secure so they turn themselves in.


What does the character do that contrasts with their inner goals? He wants money but can't hold down a job. Gets mouthy with the boss or steals time.
What do they do to compliment their inner goals? When he does get paid, he invests wisely.
What is the characters stand out physical feature? Good posture
What is the physical flaw? Big ears & two different colored eyes.
Do they have scars or tattoos? Scar cutting through eyebrows.
What are they hobbies? Sudoku
Nervous habits? Rubs neck.
Favorite music? Blue grass.
Who is the most important person in their lives? Father.

You should know: eye & hair color, age, weight, height, birth date & place, birth order, etc

How do you make sure your characters are unique? 
Do you have a work sheet? Character bible?


Miranda Hardy said...

Great movie! I've used character sketch sheets to include mannerisms, too. So very helpful with writing your characters.

Alice said...

Great character sketch ideas. I've started doing character sketches and it helps me get to know my characters better instead of the story taking several drafts to figure my characters out. I liked Breakfast Club, too. Good movie and example of unique and memorable characters.

David P. King said...

Excellent examples of character diversity. Sometimes you can't help but play on the stereotypes, but going about them in new ways makes things interesting.

I gave you a Shout-Out on my blog today! :)

Julie Daines said...

You must do a good job filing out that worksheet because you have very unique characters! Thanks for posting this Taffy.

Taffy said...

I love using Scrivner for my character sketches. I add pics of what I think my characters look like.

andrea said...

I took a class from Caleb Warnock where he makes you flesh out your characters so much they feel like family members. Very usuful when writing your book.