When I began to write the fiction novel I’m working on I had no clue how to really do it. There was so much I needed to learn. My true growth started after I became a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and joined the large critique group they have. Over that first month in that group it was amazing how much I had learned. Yet, I had so much more to learn and am still doing so now.
I came to realize that I’m a plotter. One day I had an idea to write a quick and concise outline for my book. This lead me to looking for a book on Amazon.com for a book on writing on writing an outline. In the book I found they talked about a Character Sketch. This one tool helped me immensely in my writing. I really got to know my characters as a result.
From the character sketch in the book I created a Word doc and adjusted it to make it my own. I’d like to share it with you now. I have one for both males and females so the one I’m going to post will be the female version. If you’d like a copy of either one or both, please leave a comment below making sure the email address you leave your comment with is good as that’s the one I will send it to.
Now, I will warn you that it is long, but remember not every spot will be answered for every character. For my protagonist I had seven hand written out binder sheet pages whereas very minor characters barely had the front side of a sheet for information.
Here it is. I had a hard time copying and pasting it in here so I had to change how I outlined it. Below the character sketch you will also find a character questionnaire with fifty-five questions on it that you may like as well. I also have this in a Word doc if you’d like it.
a) Does she like her name?
b) What does her name mean to her?
b) Place of Birth:
i) What was important to the people who raised her?
ii) Does she think she’s turned out the way her parents expected:
e) Economic/social status growing up:
f) Ethnic background:
g) Places lived:
i) Current address and phone number:
i) Favorite subject in school:
ii) Special training:
i) Who is her best friend (confidant):
(1) Tell me about her:
(2) How did they meet:
(3) What does she like about this person:
(4) What does this person like about her:
ii) Lives with:
iii) Fights with:
iv) Spends time with:
v) Wishes to spend time with:
vi) Who depends on her and why?
vii) People she most admires:
viii) How do other people view her?
m) Describe her ideal mate:
n) Dating, marriage:
i) What’s her idea of a good marriage:
3) Overall outlook on life:
a) Relationship with God:
i) What does she believe about God:
ii) If she believes in God, what does she supposed God thinks of her?
b) Does she like herself?
c) How does she feel about her life right now:
i) What, if anything, would she like to change about her life?
d) What personal demons haunt her?
e) Is she lying to herself about something? What is it?
f) What’s the most important thing in her life:
i) What does she value most:
i) Morality level:
j) Confidence level:
k) What’s her (internal, external) goal:
l) Why does she want that (internal, external) goal:
m) What flaw must she overcome by the end of the book:
4) Typical day:
5) Physical appearance:
a) Physical build:
c) Head shape:
k) What people notice first:
i) What impression does she make on people when they first meet her:
ii) How about after they’ve known her for a while:
l) How would she describe herself:
a) Personality type:
b) Strongest character trait:
i) How can the flip side of her strong point be a weakness?
c) Weakest character trait:
d) How much self-control and self-discipline does she have?
e) What makes her angry?
f) What makes her cry?
g) Fears – What is she most afraid of:
i) What people, places, situations does she avoid?
i) What does she like best about herself?
j) What people like best about her:
k) Interests and favorites:
i) Political views:
iii) Favorite food/drink:
iv) Favorite music:
v) Favorite books:
vi) Favorite movies:
vii) Favorite sports/recreation:
(1) Did she play in school?
viii) Favorite color:
ix) Childhood/Current daydreams:
x) If she could spend the day with someone she admires (living/dead/imaginary), who would she pick and why:
xi) Best way to spend a weekend:
xii) If she had a free day with no responsibilities and her only mission was to enjoy herself, what would she do?
xiii)A great gift for this person:
l) Typical expressions:
i) When happy:
ii) When angry:
iii) When frustrated:
iv) When sad:
v) When afraid:
vi) Most used facial expressions and gestures (smirk, frown, wince, hand motion, shrug, eye contact):
n) Laughs or jeers at:
o) Ways to annoy this person:
p) Ways to cheer up this person:
q) Hopes and dreams:
i) How does she see herself accomplishing these dreams?
r) Worst thing she’s ever done to someone and why:
s) Greatest success:
t) What is she most proud of about her life:
i) If answer is related to business, what about on a personal level:
u) Biggest trauma or the worst thing that’s happened in her life:
i) If answer is related to business, what about on a personal level:
v) Biggest embarrassment:
w) What is she most ashamed of in her life:
x) Cares about most:
z) Is there anything she’s always wanted to do but haven’t done:
i) What would happen if she did it:
aa) She is the kind of person who?
bb) What would she like it to say on her tombstone:
cc) What do you love most about her?
dd) Why will the reader sympathize with her right away?
8) How is she ordinary or extraordinary?
9) How is her situation ordinary or extraordinary?
10) Core need:
11) Anecdote (defining moment):
55 Questions To Help You Create A Character For Your Novel.
1. How does your character think of their father?
2. What do they hate and love about him?
3. What influence – literal or imagined – did the father have?
4. Their mother?
5. How do they think of her?
6. What do they hate? Love?
7. What influence – literal or imagined – did the mother have?
8. Brothers, sisters? Who do they like? Why? What do they despise about their siblings?
9. What type of discipline was your character subjected to at home? Strict? Lenient?
10. Were they overprotected as a child? Sheltered?
11. Did they feel rejection or affection as a child?
12. What was the economic status of their family?
13. How does your character feel about religion?
14. What about political beliefs?
15. Is your character street-smart, book-smart, intelligent, intellectual, slow-witted?
16. How do they see themselves: as smart, as intelligent, uneducated?
17. How does their education and intelligence – or lack thereof – reflect in their speech pattern, vocabulary, and pronunciations?
18. Did they like school? Teachers? Schoolmates?
19. Were they involved at school? Sports? Clubs? Debate? Were they unconnected?
20. Did they graduate? High-School? College?
21. What does your character do for a living? How do they see their profession? What do they like about it? Dislike?
22. Did they travel? Where? Why? When?
23. What did they find abroad, and what did they remember?
24. What were your character’s deepest disillusions? In life? What are they now?
25. What were the most deeply impressive political or social, national or international, events that they experienced?
26. What are your character’s manners like? What is their type of hero? Whom do they hate?
27. Who are their friends? Lovers? ‘Type’ or ‘ideal’ partner?
28. What do they want from a partner? What do they think and feel of sex?
29. What social groups and activities does your character attend? What role do they like to play? What role do they actually play, usually?
30. What are their hobbies and interests?
31. What does your character’s home look like? Personal taste? Clothing? Hair? Appearance?
32. How do they relate to their appearance? How do they wear their clothing? Style? Quality?
33. Who is your character’s mate? How do they relate to him or her? How did they make their choice?
34. What is your character’s weaknesses? Hubris? Pride? Controlling?
35. Are they holding on to something in the past? Can he or she forgive?
36. Does your character have children? How do they feel about their parental role? About the children? How do the children relate?
37. How does your character react to stress situations? Defensively? Aggressively? Evasively?
38. Do they drink? Take drugs? What about their health?
39. Does your character feel self-righteous? Revengeful? Contemptuous?
40. Do they always rationalize errors? How do they accept disasters and failures?
41. Do they like to suffer? Like to see other people suffering?
42. How is your character’s imagination? Daydreaming a lot? Worried most of the time? Living in memories?
43. Are they basically negative when facing new things? Suspicious? Hostile? Scared? Enthusiastic?
44. What do they like to ridicule? What do they find stupid?
45. How is their sense of humor? Do they have one?
46. Is your character aware of who they are? Strengths? Weaknesses? Idiosyncrasies? Capable of self-irony?
47. What does your character want most? What do they need really badly, compulsively? What are they willing to do, to sacrifice, to obtain?
48. Does your character have any secrets? If so, are they holding them back?
49. How badly do they want to obtain their life objectives? How do they pursue them?
50. Is your character pragmatic? Think first? Responsible? All action? A visionary? Passionate? Quixotic?
51. Is your character tall? Short? What about size? Weight? Posture? How do they feel about their physical body?
52. Do they want to project an image of a younger, older, more important person? Does they want to be visible or invisible?
53. How are your character’s gestures? Vigorous? Weak? Controlled? Compulsive? Energetic? Sluggish?
54. What about voice? Pitch? Strength? Tempo and rhythm of speech? Pronunciation? Accent?
55. What are the prevailing facial expressions? Sour? Cheerful? Dominating?