The character development sheet is a guide for creating new characters. Simply answer the following questions, but by no means limit your character to only this sheet. You may also wish to try out the random character generator for further ideas.
- What is unique about this character's appearance?
- What sort of outfit would this character wear?
- Is this character gifted/cursed with anything unusual?
- Is this character quick to spring into action or would it prefer to think things through?
- Is this character knowledgeable on many topics or only a handful?
- What has occurred in the character's past that still affects it today?
- What sort of goals does this character have?
- What stops this character from reaching its goals?
- How does your character change throughout the stories?
Balancing your characterEdit
Now that you've come up with your character, it's time to look at it again. A common mistake by writers is making their character too perfect. Generally, if you have the need to make your character extremely powerful or use very powerful weapons (i.e. god-like), it is common practice to add some sort of drawback to using such powers.
The commonly used term for too perfect characters is the Mary Sue. A Mary Sue is a character that is so perfect, it cannot possibly exist in real life. Generally, they are frowned upon by readers, but experienced writers are capable of taking common traits of a Mary Sue to turn it into something completely original.
There is nothing wrong with using perfect characters as part of your civilization's historical background, but steer clear from using them in actual stories.
Signs of a Mary SueEdit
While experienced writers are able to use these traits effectively, new writers should avoid these completely as below are signs that the character could be a Mary Sue.
- Complete good by nature and being always right.
- Extreme persuasion skills to the point where they are always right.
- Being completely incorruptible.
- If the character sees their own powers as a curse
- Having super powerful abilities that are irrelevant to the plot.
- Having godmodded abilities
- Unrealistically attractive
- Oddly colored eyes or hair even for the species
- Names unusual for even the species
- Chosen Ones
- Hogging the spotlight of a story with many protagonists
- Author takes personal offence if the character gets criticisized
Ways to undo the SueEdit
Here are questions to consider.
- What is your character's weakness?
- What personality flaws does your character have?
- Has your character ever comitted a crime and got caught?
Nothing is ever black and white for there are always shades of grey. Unless your character is actually a force of something (i.e. force of evil, force of chaos, force of nature), it might be a good idea to emphasize the grey areas of a character. For example, if you have a good character, try exposing his/her darker side at one point. The same case goes for villains. Surely, they must have a motive of sorts, and whatever they are doing they might think is right.
- Does the character hold any beliefs which others may find unethical?
- Does a character's cultural differences get him/her into conflicts?