The most important thing in any story is character. If you know your characters well enough, they’ll tell the story for you. Good characters can even save a bad plot. This is why it’s important to put together character sketches of each major character. Again, Feature Filmmaking At Used Car Prices informed a lot of what I put together here though a lot of it is my own as well.
It’s fairly simple and gives you a good idea of what kind of character you’re dealing with. You should do this with every major character in your story. Most of this stuff probably won’t even make it into the story but having the character background makes it easier to figure out how your character will behave in any given setting.
Character Name and Age
Physically: This is mostly self-explanatory. What does your character look like? Do they drink or do drugs? Do they exercise?
Family Background: Are they an only child? Do they come from a broken home? Did their father beat them? Were they treated like royalty? What was their childhood like?
Education: How did they do in school? Did they like it? What was their favorite class? Did they play sports? Did they go to college? What kind of school was it? Were they popular?
Social Life: Do they have a lot of friends? Do they go out drinking? What kind of places do they like to go to? Do they have parties? Have they had sex? Do they go out with anyone? In short, what do they do with their lives?
Work History: Where do they work? How long have they worked there? Where did they work before that? Do they like their job? Is it a career job or something just to get by?
So you know what they look like, what kind of family they have, how educated they are, what sort of friends they have, and what their job is like. Now it’s time to make this character just a little more real.
Hobbies: Do they collect comics books? Do they knit? Play chess? Gamble? Not only does this help round out the character but if you need the character to be doing something, you have something.
Habits: Do they chew their nails? Drive fast? If they switched bodies with someone what would be the give away that of who they really are?
Phobias: What is your character genuinely afraid of. It can be something as silly as spiders or as universal as death. Knowing their fears will help you really get inside their head.
You don’t have to answer all of these questions, but you get the idea. Below is a character sketch I put together for a project that was never completed. Continue reading