Whereas plot is the framework around which a story hangs, a character is what drives a story forward. Good characters anchor your audience in the world you’ve built, giving them something human (or an anthropomorphic equivalent) to latch onto. Whether they’re the main character or a minor one, every character should come across as “human.” And what is something we humans do best? Why, build stories, of course!
Every person frames their own life into a story in which they are the main character. It’s how we grapple with understanding ourselves and our place in the world. Every character thinks they’re the main character; every character holds a slightly different version of the story.
Years ago, when I was still working with Spectacle Publishing Media Group, LLC (which I also co-founded but eventually left due to my hectic piano teaching schedule) I was offered the opportunity to write a guest post for Morgen Bailey’s Creative Writing Blog. (Morgen is a fantastic British author with several writing workbooks and online courses. I can’t recommend her work enough.) In that post, I proffered five aspects of character writing.
A great deal has changed since I wrote that post. I’m no longer at SPMG, the blog my name was linked to has been retired, and Poetry As Told By Robots is off the shelves. However, the content of the post still holds true. Character building takes work.
Recently I’ve developed a template to streamline my own character building. It’s not all-encompassing, but it’s customizable enough to meet my needs. Whether you’re in the market for free templates or are looking for ideas to help you build you’re own, this character sheet is free for the taking. Enjoy!
The PDF version is available for download here: Character Info Template
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