Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writer Wednesday: Characterizations

As I just finished the VERY rough draft of my latest WIP and I’ve noticed my characterizations need some work, I’ve decided to write a short post on…you guessed it.  Characterizations.

There’s so many different ideas about what works and what doesn’t so obviously take all advice with a grain of salt and only use what works for you.

Here’s what I do.  First I write backstories for each of my main characters.  And important secondary characters.  Most if not all of this will never make it into my story, but it helps me flesh out my characters.

Then I ask myself these questions (with special thanks to Suite101): 

·  What do you know about this character now that s/he doesn’t yet know?
·  What is this character’s greatest flaw?
·  What do you know about this character that s/he would never admit?
·  What is this character’s greatest asset?
·  If this character could choose a different identity, who would s/he be?
·  What music does this character sing to when no one else is around?
·  In what or whom does this character have the greatest faith?
·  What is this character’s favorite movie?
·  Does this character have a favorite article of clothing? Favorite shoes?
·  Does this character have a vice? Name it.
·  Name this character’s favorite person (living or dead).
·  What is this character’s secret wish?
·  What is this character’s proudest achievement?
·  Describe this character’s most embarrassing moment.
·  What is this character’s deepest regret?
·  What is this character’s greatest fear?
·  Describe this character’s most devastating moment.
·  What is this character’s greatest achievement?
·  What is this character’s greatest hope?
·  Does this character have an obsession? Name it.
·  What is this character’s greatest disappointment?
·  What is this character’s worst nightmare?
·  Whom does this character most wish to please? Why?
·  Describe this character’s mother.
·  Describe this character’s father.
·  If s/he had to choose, with whom would this character prefer to live?
·  Where does this character fall in birth order? What effect does this have?
·  Describe this character’s siblings or other close relatives.
·  Describe this character’s bedroom. Include three cherished items.
·  What is this character’s birth date? How does this character manifest traits of his/her astrological sign?
·  If this character had to live in seclusion for six months, what six items would s/he bring?
·  Why is this character angry?
·  What calms this character?
·  Describe a recurring dream or nightmare this character might have.
·  List the choices (not circumstances) that led this character to his/her current predicament.
·  List the circumstances over which this character has no control.
·  What wakes this character in the middle of the night?
·  How would a stranger describe this character?
·  What does this character resolve to do differently every morning?
·  Who depends on this character? Why?
·  If this character knew s/he had exactly one month to live, what would s/he do?
·  How would a dear friend or relative describe this character?
·  What is this character’s most noticeable physical attribute?
·  What is this character hiding from him/herself?
·  Write one additional thing about your character.

There are also TONS of character worksheets that you can use.  I personally don’t find them all that useful, but you may so I link to a place that will link you to all the rest of them.  

Just click here to be taken to Adventure's In Children's Publishing's blog.



  1. Your list of questions is so thorough! Amazing. Thanks for the link, too :)


  2. Thanks for the great link. I have a whole process I go through with my characters before writing, but this is a much more thorough list. Well done!

  3. LOL, Marissa. I wonder where I got the questions from. :D

    Renae, you're welcome.

  4. I'm with Renae. I have a whole process I go through beyond the usual questionnaire (though I use that, too). I love writing the characters' backstories. That's what brings them to life, not a billion questions.

  5. Great post! I love using character worksheets. It's very effective to use when you have more than one protagonist--it helps give them distinctive voices.


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