Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C for Character Assessment

Welcome to the A to Z challenge! You can view the home page HERE.

There are many ways to develop characters for your stories, but I've found the best way is with an extensive character assessment. In the interest of brevity, I won't be posting the entire assessment I use, but will encourage you to seek out an assessment of your own that includes some of the following:

Typical expressions when happy/sad/angry/frustrated/etc.
Parents: What was important to the people who raised him/her?
Ethnic background
Strongest/weakest character traits
How is his/her situation ordinary or extrodinary?
Special training
How do people view this character?
Overall outlook on life
What personal demons haunt him?
Does he/she have a secret?

As you can see, an extensive character assessment goes deep into the person. Whether you use it all in your story is an individual decision. You will, however, be able to create a more three dimensional character with this information and you will know your character and how he thinks when you are writing him into situations.


  1. *A great list, Karen! I should take a little extra time before I begin a new story to get to know my characters better. I usually discover who my characters are as I write about them, having only a general idea about them to begin with. Maybe I should do more extensive sketches before I draft, but it seems to work for me. Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to more posts! New follower.

  2. A great list of assessment to characterize a person's character also great post for C a-z challenged. Do check out my GAC a-z too :0

  3. I totally agree - knowing your character inside out is the only way to create a three-dimensional character. Great post!
    Happy A-Z blogging.

  4. Dawn: We each create our own ways of fleshing out our characters. If what you do is working for you, then sitck with the old addage: If it ain't broke don't fix it! And welcome!

    Paul: Thank you and welcome! I'll check out your blog today!

    S.L.: Learning your character makes for great writing before you set pen to paper. There are times that I wait to use the character assesment until I get a fix on what my character is going to be involved in. Enjoy the A to Z Challenge!

  5. Hi Karen,
    I too have a similar list for establishing my characters. Even if I'm only working on a short story I like to have enough background details for the character that I can write them with ease without forcing anything. Their behaviour comes more naturally if you know in depth what kind of character they are.
    Of course this does mean that short stories take a little longer to write!

    Excellent blog, looking forward to more posts.

  6. Heather: Whether or not you end up using the background material in your story is not as important as understanding your character. Sounds like you have a good system for that!
    I find that my short stories end up a little longer with character assessment, because I tend to want to share my character with my reader.

  7. DL: I glad this was of some use to you. There is so many more questions that can be added to this list. Play Freud or Sherlock Holmes and see what you can come up with.

  8. These are great questions to ask yourself as you flesh out a character. To complement these, I would recommend trying out one of the techniques for really getting into your character's head. There are a few around, the one I use is interviewing. Each character I've "interviewed" has surprised me with some insights that I would never have gleaned just by looking at a page of questions.

  9. Botanist: Thank you for the valuable suggestion. I will definitely try that!

  10. It's important to do a lot of character work. I find writing brief bios of their life before the story opens quite useful. Sometimes I write the story before the story of what they're doing. It rarely gets put in the book, but it helps me figure them out.