NaNoWriMo Prep – #1 – Character Charts

NaNo Prep – #1

Know Your CharactersHow Well Do You Know Your Characters?

When it comes to creating characters, there are as many ways to come up with them as there are possible characters. You can base your characters on people you know. You can create characters entirely from your imagination. You can use character generators, character sheets, character guidebooks.

What really matters is what works for you. Over the next month of NaNo prep I’m going to present you with tools and techniques that I’ve either come across over the years or that I use regularly. Pick and choose from them. Try ‘em on for size. Or just ignore if them if they don’t speak to you.

They’re tools. Not rules.

A character might spring unbidden into your mind, like a flashbulb going off. You see them, you hear them, you watch them go about their day to day life and you have to write about them. Sometimes, however, you might need to build your character from scratch. Like Frankenstein’s Monster. Except not as scary. Unless you want him or her to be, of course.

When you’re doing NaNo you’ll find that in the heat of things, characters will, in the words of Gimli from The Lord of the Rings, “spring out of holes in the ground” and surprise you. They may even throw a monkey wrench into your plot. You can either incorporate them into the plot or just ignore them and save them for another story.

If you’re into character charts and like to fill them out for your characters, here are some you might find useful.

If you’re not into filling out character charts, that’s fine too. Remember, always, do whatever technique works best for you. That’s all that matters. What works for you.

Epiguide Character Chart

Goal/Motivation/Conflict Character Charts

Character Development Worksheet

Perceptions of Your Characters – An interesting one to use if you want to step outside your character and see him or her from the outside.

Big Ass Character Creation – This one lives up to its name. More questions than you can shake a stick at.

Keep in mind that if you use any of these character charts, YOU DO NOT have to answer every question. You may only want to answer enough questions to give you an idea of the character. You may want to answer every single one because your character is so fascinating!

But think about it. If you were to ask these questions of people you knew in real life, how many could you answer?

So, I guess it boils down to how well do you want to get to know your character.