13 January 2012

The Writer's Toolbox: Developing Your Characters

character development, characters, writing
Copyright by Kevin Dooley

Happy Friday Everyone! (If my sentences seem to run together without a purpose, it's because I'm extremely tired right now! On top of everything else, I'm trying to lose weight this year, so I'm going to the gym more...so, bear with me!)

Well, as you know, I've been going along really well with finishing my....book (I still feel weird saying that), and I've been thinking a lot lately about character development. We all know how important it is to have strong, unique characters who go beyond the traditional roles or stereotypes set up for them. And it makes for a much more interesting read to find out that a character does have a lot of depth with plenty of history and past that will keep us intrigued and engaged in knowing more about this character.

So today, I will bring you my top five resources for character development! I'm really excited about this because I wanted to give you guys a bit more than just character lists. Some are very useful, some are just a lot of fun. But, in general, I think these tools will be great on helping you get to know your characters.

1. Character Charts

I'm sure most of you have seen these before, but somehow I just love the two I found...the first one I found I really like because when you fill out the questions you can email yourself everything.  And some how that is really nice if you are the type that needs everything organized.

Character Chart # 1

This first chart asks you everything from what your character's favorite number is to what their relationship with sex is...and sometimes you might think certain questions won't make a different in your novel, but just think of it like developing a person - if you were to answer these questions, wouldn't you have an answer?

The second chart I think is even more detailed than the first one, the only difference is this one you have to either print out or use it as a reference guide if you are typing in Word or something. I like it a lot better because it has many more questions to answer and the more you know your character the better, right?

Character Chart # 2

2. Personality Quizzes

Okay, I honestly didn't think of doing this before, but this is a great idea! Do you remember those Myers-Briggs personality tests? Have you ever thought of doing that with your characters? Me either! Most of the time those tests cost money (which I found out in one quick google search.) But, lucky day I found a free one (that I actually took for a class...and I just took the test now and I'm an ENFP).

Myers-Briggs Personality Test
The Myers-Briggs test is meant to show how you see the world and make decisions (and in the life of your character, that is really good to know how they will do that...)

Oh! And if you want to know what evil personality your character would have, after you have completed the test, check out this link (Apparantly, my personality type is the "cult leader." Oh fun!)

3. The "Human" In All of Us (Part 1)

Okay, we all know that day in, day out that a lot of the people we interact with have some sort of mask up. Not all of us (I'm a heart on the sleeve personality myself, so if you ask, I'll probably tell)...but a lot of people are like that.

And I like finding stuff online that reveals that human side in all of us, even if I can never really know who said it. And if you are in the beginning stages of developing your character, and want to figure out who they are...I would suggest this site:

Letters to Crushes

On this site, you will find letters to crushes - completely anonymous. Somehow, I thought, when I found this, how wonderful this would be for developing characters and their relationships. I mean, we have to know more about the world anyways to develop well-rounded characters, right? And if you are like me and you have the tendency to repeat your character type, you would appreciate being able to pluck different personality types out of the universe. And I think this would help!

4. The "Human" In All of Us (Part 2)

I'm sure you have all heard of "Post Secret"? If you haven't, Post Secret is a website where people can submit their secret confessions anonymously on a homemade postcard. I've read this book before in Barnes and Noble and it is so eye opening to the experiences everyone of us have...and I think this would be a wonderful way of getting to know people outside of your own circle...

Here's the link to the blog that Post Secret runs:


5. Draw Your Character

Okay, I had a lot of fun with this. This may fit a bit more if you are writing a fantasy or sci-fi novel, but you could probably have fun with this no matter what (if you don't write fantasy, just imagine if your character in a Halloween party)

You can draw your character using this site:

Superhero Generator

And, I would like you all to meet the main character of my novel that I created using this link...everyone meet:

This is my main character Talia! And the creature on the right is named, Ruby, but she may or may not be a featured character in the book (which is a long story...magical powers are involved, so it's a pretty sensitive issue for the characters right now).

So, that's my list everyone! I hope you have a great weekend, and I'm dying to know...

What writing tools do you find helpful when you are developing a character?


  1. I never thought about applying Meyers-Briggs to characters. I'm definitely goiing to have some fun with the drawing site. :) Great post!

    In theory going to the gym is supposed to give you more energy. I was told to eat protein after to "feed your muscles."

  2. This is an awesome post. I love all these little things you found! I can't wait to try them out. :)

  3. Thank you for sharing some great resources! I could have saved a bit of time with the character charts you provided, but alas, I had already compiled three. LOL, now I will be able to look and see which one will work best where. (yeah that's a sentence, kind of;-) Nice to meet you!

  4. Hi,
    I’m your newest follower via Google Friend Connect – Shannon’s Tales of Motherhood

    I linked to your blog from World Bloggers Community’s group “Let’s Follow Each Other”,,
    Thanks for all the info.I plan to come back to your blog to read more!

    Please feel free to check out my blog as well! —> Shannon’s Tales of Motherhood http://shannpf1977.blogspot.com/
    Shannon Flora

  5. I loved that you drew your character. What a great post dealing with Character development!! I think this is most helpful--I have so much to think about now!!

    Cheers, Jenn.

  6. This is very helpful especially to one like me who wants to learn how to write. Thanks.

    I am a new follower from the weekend blog hop. I hope you can follow me back. :-)

  7. Those are some great resources - thanks so much for creating this post! One book I found really helpful is What Would Your Character Do? It kind of combines stories and personality tests into character development. I'm going to have to go draw my characters this weekend.

  8. Thank you for hopping over to Saving and Sharing It and following. I am now following back. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts.


  9. hmmm... very interesting.

    I usually don't go through any extremes to really map out my characters. I usually let my dialogue take care of it. In this one book I got for one of my classes, where it explains everything from plot to style via the classics (e.g. Sense & Sensbility, Beloved, etc.).
    In the characterization chapter, it explained how four different methods can help and hinder developing characters.

    - what a character thinks of himself
    - how a character acts/behaves
    -what other characters think of the one character
    -what the narrator writes about that character

    and they say that the first choice has its faults because the character might be unreliable because of mental illness or something like that... and maybe they have a self-bias either for or against themselves.

    In one story I've been working on forever, I let one character be defined by what others think of him as they offer different opinions about him. In the end, the one POV that matters most is the one person who didn't know him, whereas the others have been going to school with him for years.

  10. wow, what great links, and I love some of these ideas. I especially love drawing your character. Thanks for this post.

  11. Great ideas - we sometimes free write about what's in s character's closet and how it's organized, says a lot about someone!

  12. There is some great stuff here that I'm definitely going to make use of! Thank you for the resources...and your insights! :)


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