Author Topic: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters  (Read 3664 times)

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Offline evilgrin

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Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« on: Fri, Dec 05, 2008, 06:35 AM »
http://www.associatedcontent.com/articl ... ction.html

Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
Learn How to Create Realistic Fiction Characters with Character Sheets
By Melanie Marten

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would all go over to Joe’s house, head down into his basement, and become different characters for the evening. We played the popular role playing game Dungeons & Dragons. In a role-playing game (RPG), each person takes on the persona of a character in the story: a fighter, a wizard, a thief, or whoever else he or she wants. Sitting around the big table on mismatched chairs, we each had a couple of things in front of us: a can of Jolt Cola or Mountain Dew, a bag full of strange dice, and a character sheet.

The character sheet is the important part. It told us everything we needed to know about our character in order to play them convincingly.

When a writer sits down to craft a short story or novel, one of the most important tasks is to be able to write their characters convincingly. In order to do this, a writer might want to take a cue from the teenage role-players. Use a character sheet.

The more you know about your character, the easier it will be to have them act, speak and respond in believable and appropriate ways in your story.

Character Basics

1. Full Name
2. Nicknames – who, what, and why?
3. Age
4. Physical description – height, weight, coloration
5. Career
6. Hobbies
7. Education level
8. Family, friends, and love interests
9. Style of clothing, accessories
10. Where do they live?

The Character’s Past
1. Family dynamics
2. What kind of grades did they get?
3. Were they teased, the teaser, or neither as a child?
4. Any significant trauma? (Accident, abuse)
5. Any emotional upheaval? (Divorce, death of a friend)

The Character’s Strengths and Weaknesses
By now, this should be easy to figure out. Your character’s strengths and weaknesses will depend largely on their history and their basic information. Basically, this asks you to describe HOW the character dealt with the things that happened in the past. It will, in turn, tell you how they will deal with them in the future.
For example: if Mary’s mother abandoned her and her brother when they were young, and then Mary’s husband left her unexpectedly, Mary would either become very strong, and stubbornly independent, or become weak and constantly seek love and commitment.

A great way to help you figure out your fiction character’s strengths and weaknesses, you can do a simple exercise. Keeping in mind your character’s past and present situation, you should answer each of the following questions in no more than five minutes each.

1. If you character was at the beach and saw someone struggling in the water, what would they do?
2. If someone who had been dating your character for one month said “I love you!” how would they react?
3. If your character’s prize possession was stolen, how would they feel?

Simply answering those three questions will give you a lot of insight into what drives your characters to be the way they are. That, in turn, will help you determine how they will react to things that happen in your story. This writing exercise is a part of your character sheet.

Filling out an extensive character sheet for your fiction characters will give you further insight into how they will act and react in your story. Knowing about a character's past, family life, hobbies, and experiences will help you as a writer create fully realistic and sympathetic characters. When my friend Joe became the great Wizard Snograt, he knew that he would never turn anyone into a frog since his mother had been turned into a fly years ago. When a writer creates a character, he or she should be able to identify not only what a character will do, but [yes, the article really does end there, weird, no?]
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Offline silver

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #1 on: Sat, Dec 06, 2008, 08:39 AM »
Quote
he or she should be able to identify not only what a character will do, but [yes, the article really does end there, weird, no?]

How peculiar!  But interesting.

Now I feel like a slacker for never doing this before.
A very good exercise; I'll have to start one right away!


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Offline evilgrin

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #2 on: Sat, Dec 06, 2008, 08:41 AM »
from being such a gaming nerd, I usually do a character sheet. Not always the one above, but some sort of a sheet. It gets scribbled on during the story as stuff happens, heehee
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Offline NorthernLights

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #3 on: Sat, Dec 06, 2008, 10:04 AM »
I always prepare a character sheet but it doesn't mean I actually use it.
Most times it's merely suggestive of the character and not a thorough study.
I prefer a more natural evolution of the character over that of setting out strict parameters of how he/she would behave, look, think, react, etc.

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Offline evilgrin

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #4 on: Sat, Dec 06, 2008, 10:11 AM »
yeah, it's not set in stone for me either...hence the scribbles all over it by the end of the story, heehee, but I've found that, especially in a long or possibly convoluted story, it's good to have something to look back on when you can't remember what the hell his mom's name is. Or what the hell happened to her secretary, or any number of things. It saves a lot of worry
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Offline Bitten

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #5 on: Sun, Dec 14, 2008, 07:25 AM »
I think character sheets are a great idea, especially for characters that you intend to write for a long story. I always encourage new SC writers to do one. I really like those 3 questions. I can see how that would help with a lot of characters.

I also like the following list, though it does not require as much serious thought at the questions.

Name of Character:
Age:
Date of Birth:
Sex:
Height:
Weight:
Hair:
Eyes:
Single/Married:
Sexual Orientation:
Race:
Nationality:
Economic Status:
Education:
Grade School:
High School:
College:
Other:
Languages Spoken:
Regional Dialects:
Vocal Qualities:
Politics:
Place in History:
Occupation:
Organizations:
Achievements:
Awards:
Defeats:
Emotional Stability:
Basic Drives:
Attitudes/Prejudices:
Diseases/Handicaps:
Favorites
Colors:
Foods:
Drinks:
Music:
Art:
Hobbies:
Sports:
Names
Of Children:
Of Siblings:
Others:

Offline evilgrin

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #6 on: Sun, Dec 14, 2008, 09:11 PM »
I like that one too!
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Offline Muddie

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #7 on: Mon, Dec 15, 2008, 05:37 AM »
That's what I like about playing the MUX (Multi-User eXperience) games on the net. You have to write up a character application with all the details of the character you will be playing. The age, sex, name, skills (things you learn), abilities (things you're born with or are adaptations naturally) , powers (they are usually supernatural or superhero style games), resources, (car, money, home, etc...), contacts (parents, political, business, entertainment, underground, criminal, etc...). You have to write up a desc for the char. And finally the Background which tells you why this person is the way they are. What makes them tick. How did they learn what they know. etc..etc.. Oh and you usually chose an actor or actress to portray your character as well.

MUXing is a VERY resourceful tool for creative writing and for a creative outlet. It's not to hard to learn the commands, much easier than ICR in my opinion. I'm working on setting up a game of my own right now. I took over that Buffy Mux that I mentioned somewhere else and I'm revamping it into something different. Think I'll keep the same supernatural theme with the creatures and heros and whatnot but I think I'm going to steer it out of the Whedonverse and into more of an original territory, adapting mythos from several places (Supernatural the show, Buffy, White Wolf, etc....) I'm still kinda up in the air as to what exactly I want the place to be. I had thought about making it a Crossover style place with several shows blended to fit together but we'll see. With the way most Buffy places go I kinda wanna steer clear of having Buffy canon characters such as Buffy and Willow and Cordy but I like the thought of having characters like Angel and Doyle and Lorne, and Fred and Wesley. I might tweak the history a bit or something I dunno.....I want to incorporate in Supernatural but the mythos of Buffy doesn't really fit with the mythos of the Winchesters. Maybe just have to do a massive rewrite. When I get it done you guys are more than welcome to come by and check it out. And more than welcome to app a character. We have such talented writers here. You guys would rock as RPers (roleplayers).


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Offline evilgrin

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Re: Character Sheets for Great Fiction Characters
« Reply #8 on: Mon, Dec 15, 2008, 06:34 AM »
I'm an old D&D geek so the character sheets have been familiar for a while and yeah, I think it really does lend itself to great character writing. It makes you start to think about the characters as real people before you even put pen to paper. And having a list of stuff to refer to sure doesn't hurt
Elaine:)

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