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Concerning Characters: Part 2

Character Template

The Basics






Role in Story:


With the first seven concepts, you can really flesh out the basic for your character. By understanding who they are on the outside, how the world views them, you can start to imagine how they might view themselves. Also, by presenting who they are in the story, you start to set yourself up with the rudimentary role of what they must ineveitably be. If they are the advisor to the hero, they will need the background to show their wisdom. If they are the main nemesis, they will need the power to make the main character tremble.

The Objectives

Primary Objective:



Soft Spots:

Cruel Streaks:



The second seven concepts really start to dig into the character. In my opinion, they are some of the most important questions to ask, and will help you to flesh out the rest of your story where the character is concerned. The primary objective should be the driving force of the character (though of course people can have many secondary objectives. Don't feel limited to one concept). By identifying what their motivations and priorities are, you can likewise begin to flesh out what kind of state of mind the character will often be in. If their main objective is to destroy a flawed government and one of their priorities is another weaker character that they are in love with, you an imagine they might be slightly anxious not to have their lover receive punishment from the vicious government they're fighting. Likewise, note what makes them tick and what calms them down. Remember this for later. It will be important in your story to know when you're pushing a character too far to keep their reactions realistic. Just as people can be traumatized, so can characters. If you put them over the edge, you have to deal with the consequences for the rest of your story.

Is Your Character...?








It is with the next seven concepts that we really begin to push the envelope. This is where you will find you discover where a character needs to grow. It will require you to be brutally honest with a character, so take off the rose-tinted glasses and observe a character for who they are. Are they someone you'd put in charge of a vital mission? Are they someone who could fish the others out of a tight spot? Would they help someone in need or would they hold to their own needs first? Will they stay loyal to the main character (or if they are the main character will they stay loyal to their teammates)? Will they tell the truth? Will they wait out the storm? Or are they storm the others run from, the crack in the lens that could ruin everything...?

Do not be afraid to admit the ugly truth about your character. Just because a character lies or is violent does not mean they are an inherently bad character. Indeed, flaws lead to growth and growth is what a character study is all about. What is more, when you admit that a character is a liar (for example) you open up the story to study why. Where did this bad habit come from? Can it be changed, or will it just get worse? Character growth is not just a one way street; a character can turn from a delight into a menace and even an arch enemy. If that's the organic growth of their story, then so be it.

The Scenery

Where do they live?

Where do they work?

What is their education level?

What are their social limitations?

Don't get excited and think that less questions equals less work. The fact of the matter is that our scenary shapes us just as much as our experiences. Is your character living in a cardboard box beneath a soggy highway, or are they waking up in an impoverished flat underneath a quilt made by their beloved nana? Do they have the ability to make good money in order to afford healthy food and medicine, or are they living on the edge and barely able to make it by? Consider what their education level is. If you have a character that didn't make it past an elementary level for whatever reason, they probably won't be good at higher maths. If you have a character that got their PhD, they might be eager to use their degree to have a job teaching at a university level. Likewise, look at who your character is in the time which they flourish. If they are Black woman in Alabama during the 50's, they will face racism every day of their lives. If they are Jewish and living in Europe during the time of the black plague, they're probably having to face dangerous stereotypes from neighboring countries and narrowly avoiding death. Research your character and their area meticulously. Admit to yourself when their differences would have limited their education, work, and social levels.

The Network




Best Friend(s):




While this might seem relatively straightforward, there is one thing that I urge you to keep in mind. If your character has suffered abuse during childhood, recognize the statistics that you will have to deal with going forward. Abuse sufferers generally are more prone to be diagnosed with behavior disorders associated from the trauma and have a greater chance of falling into dangerous habits. These can include drug addictions, inadvisable sexual encounters, more abusive relations, and even projected abuse upon other people. While there are great many people who have suffered horrifically in their youths and have gone on to live brilliant and fulfilling lives, I imagine you'll find that each of them had to overcome their trauma in order to live positively. If your character is in good mental health, who can take the credit? Look at their relationships, and their effects. Is your character going to be prone to believe one person over another? Does your character have children, a lover, or a best friend they will attempt to protect over all others?




Stop what you are doing right now and figure this out for your characters. You will thank me later and it will improve your writing tenfold. Understand who your character is on a base level, and then use your psychological understanding to better evolve their relationships with other characters.

The Enneagram is a is a model of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. Each type has a wing, along with three centers: Instinctive, Feeling, and Thinking. By taking the free test, you can help your character to gain more depth by understanding who they are at their core.

I urge you to really look into the Enneagram. It's an incredible tool and can help you to build a more developed and human cast. It can likewise allow you to see how the character will be able to react to others depending upon their level of emotional health which will be incredible important when your story makes your character stressed.

As an example, allow me to use my original character Raif Monroe from my novel The Cry of the South. Raif is a 6w7 (Enneagram 6 with a defining wing of 7):

"My very identity splits into fragments as I desperately cut myself into pieces to escape the horrible sense of impending catastrophe"

... That'll frighten the horses.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)is an introspective self-report questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. MBTI theory goes that in order to understand and react to our world, we each use 4 functions - Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking, and Feeling. However, we have INNATE preferences for how we use these functions. Each function can be oriented outwardly, to the 'real world' (extroverted) or turned inward, toward our own inner world (introversion) therefore there are 8 cognitive functions: Fi and Fe (the Feeling functions) Ti and Te (the Thinking functions) Si and Se (the Sensing functions) Ni and Ne (the Intuiting functions). Once again, by taking the free test , you can get a feel into who your character is at their core. These websites may prove invaluable to you as you push towards building a more rounded character.

Once again, I will use Raif Monroe as an example. Raif is an ESFP. One of the funny things to note about ESFP is that they tend to get overwhelmed by negativity and have to hash out a simple explanation to sort it all in their mind. Now combine that concept with the 6w7 when they are unstable and 'splitting into fragments'. You're getting a scary picture for what my character might be like if they were to ever go off the 'deep end'.

I hope that, above all, this character template helps you to create better characters whether they be for fandom or your own personal use. Once again, allow me to say that no one template is supreme and that as you go forward you will find there are many questions to add. There is no 'right way' to make a character, but god only knows there are plenty of ways that'll land you in trouble. Hopefully, with a bit of forethought, you can avoid that.

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