Monday, April 4, 2011

Character Chart for Fictional Characters

Day 3 on the A - Z Blogging Challenge journey and I'm going to write about character development.

When I write a fictional character, I always start with a character chart. If you write fiction, you may develop this information about your protagonist and antagonist as you write the characters. I used to be more organic about it, keep it all in my head, but now I find it useful to write an 'official' character chart for primary characters. I generally cobble together a character chart for secondary characters as well. For tertiary characters, I use a subset of this chart but still find it useful to write it out. 

This character chart was first introduced to me in a creative writing class. I've modified it extensively, and added elements that help me flesh out a fully-formed fictional character.    

Character Chart

1. Full name
2. Age
3. Physical appearance (height, weight, hair & eye color, anything physically defining)
4. Birth date
5. Birthplace
6. Scars and handicaps (physical, mental, emotional)
7. Educational background
8. Socioeconomic background
9. Work experience
10. Best friend (and for how long)
11. Other men/women friends (general social status)
12. Marital status
13. Sexual preference
14. Enemies (why and for how long)
15. Parents (living, dead, still married, broken home, relationship with each)
16. Siblings (how many, gender, living, dead, relationship with each)
17. Children (how many, gender, living, dead, relationship with each)
18. Present problem(s) (physical, mental, emotional)
19. How will this problem progress / get worse
20. Strongest and weakest character traits
21. How does the character see himself/herself?
22. How is the character seen by others?
23. Sense of humor (yes/no and type of humor)
24. Basic nature
25. Ambitions
26. Philosophy of life
27. Religious background and current beliefs
28. Hobbies
29. What keeps the character up at night? Biggest fears.
30. What is the character most proud of? Greatest accomplishments.

Did I miss anything big?


  1. I use something very similar. I think this is an excellent approach to character development, not that I am an expert.
    Popping in by way of the A-Z Challenge. I’m blogging at:
    The Movie Muse
    Southern Illinois Tourism
    Fruit, Nut and Ornamental Trees 101
    Baby Steps to a Fitter Me
    Good as Grandma’s – Food Preserving

  2. Great info! How about pets? Are they covered under children or hobbies?

  3. Great catch. How in the world could I have left pets off this list??? Thanks.

  4. I'm...ummm... well, I'm... oh, bollux - I'm stealing that chart. I never do something like that but have never heard bad things about it. I'm much more the "just write" it type guy, worrying about details later. I'll see how a chart works for me! Thanks!

  5. Great post! I do the same. It helps a lot. Now following.

  6. I don't write fiction, I king of think I live it in a way, but very structured and neat way of making little fictional people, I love it.

    Pirate Knitting

  7. Great resource! :) Character development is so much fun!

    Loki Morgan -

  8. I've never written fiction, but this sounds like a good exercise. Filing it away, for sure.

  9. Very comprehensive. Pretty much every angle covered.

  10. I loved the character arc. Definitely something I'll use!

  11. Great ideas on character charts! My daughter and I have used something similar, and it has helped tremendously.

    I’m blogging through the A to Z Challenge. You can read my blog “It’s a Sweet Trip” at

  12. Great info - I've seen character charts done a few ways - I have my own lists and charts I create for mine - lots of bubbles and colored arrows. Crazy - but it helps me keep things straight.

  13. I also use magazine pictures to get a feel of my character :O)

  14. Super helpful comments everyone, thanks. I love the idea of magazine pictures. Next time I'm stumped on a character, I'll do a magazine collage of the person. Fantastic!


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