Character Development

Characters are an important part of a story. All stories need them. The best characters are those who feel real. Readers connect better with characters who come across as real people than they do with paper dolls. Real people have flaws, problems with their finances, quirks and arguments with their friends and families. Paper dolls don’t.

Paper dolls are perfect with no blemishes. They don’t worry if they are fat – they aren’t. In the very first comic about Superman, he was such a paper doll. He was invulnerable, and won every fight he was ever in. All of which made him somewhat hard to work with. So his creators invented Kryptonite. Then he had a problem. It made it easier for the readers to accept him. They could invest in him. Harry Potter used a annotated text in potions class to get by. Who wouldn’t be tempted? It made him human and that’s what makes a good well-rounded character.

Authors use tools to create characters and one of those tools is the character chart. A character chart is a form-based tool that allows an author to note down characteristics for a character. These usually consist of physical characteristics, personality characteristics, family, finances. You get the idea. Some charts are quite detailed while others only note down the basics, like height, weight, eye and hair color. It’s something an author can refer to while writing the story.

How much detail to record in the chart is up the individual author. The more detailed, however, the more real they can make their characters. Some character charts have a form where physical characteristics go and then pose a series of questions to indicate how a character would react in a given circumstance. Most of what is on the chart never makes it into the resulting story. That’s not the point of the chart. The chart is used only to get to know the character. The more the author knows about their character, the more real that character becomes.

There are a number of good charts on the internet that have helped individual authors. Just google the term character charts, choose the one that suits you and create a character with it. Try character creation with several to see which one produces a character you like. Then use it.
Character charts help authors to connect with the character and get to know them. They help the paper dolls become real people. When characters become real for the author, they become so for the reader. That’s the key to writing good characters. Get to know them. Learn what they like or don’t like. Figure out where they live. Stalk them. Learn everything you can about them. Then throw some problems at them and write that story.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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