We've already touched on characterization when we mentioned goal, motivation, conflict and resolution, elements that I picked up from Debra Dixon and Pam McCutcheon. What I'd like to do today is give you a resume list that I've picked up from many sources. I'd like to site Sue Viders, Lcynda Storey, Cher Gorman, Becy Martinez (from 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters) Morgan Hawes, Mary Jane Harrington and,I have to admit, myself, before I enter into the realm of character archetypes. For another day.
As I can't delve into my documents, I'll have to do this off the top of my head.
I think it's important to learn about the characters before putting them into "categories." This is always fun, however, because you can take things from yourself, your best friends and your worst enemies.
I do the most detailed work for the heroine, hero and villain and a shortenened version for the more important secondary characters. As I get more into stories involving animals, I might put them in too. The reader probably won't notice much. Half if not more won't even appear in the novel. But,it's there if I need it to be.
So here is my resume:
Where she/he comes from
Schools attended/grade level acheived
favorite subject in school
favorite sport or hobby in/our of school
Grooming: Is that important to them?
Makeup for the ladies. Lots used? Little?
favorite vacation spots
Favorite TV shows
Pets: Do they have any? Want any? Had any in the past?
What led to these choices
What are their needs and desires
Most prized possession
church and/or religion
What lead to this choice?
what lead to this choice?
Goals and ambitions. How could this be important for the characters?
How did this come about
Favorite car. What do they drive now? Why?
Greatest success and how this affects the story
Greatest failure and how this affects the story
Greatest Fear (External Fear like fear of drowning; Internal Fear like not being believed or liked etc)
What's the moment that changed his/her life:
Family, parents and siblings. How does this affect the character?
Friends: Best friends and friends who let them down. How does that affect the character?
Boy friends or girl friends and how this defines the actions in the story.
Character traits and habits. How does this affect the story?
The characters attitudes towards others, animals and world events.
Secrets that characters wont' share with others. How does this affect outcome?
How do characters handle crisis?
What is the characters soft spot? How does this affect the story? ie if character bashes into a telephone pole to avoid hitting a dog, how could this affect him/her and the passengers in the car.
What are some body language displayed by characters?
What are some of their favorite cliches and other language utterances? Where did they pick it up?
HOME ENVIRONMENT: Describe and explain why this is important to them. Is there anything in the home that can later affect outcome of story?
OFFICE/WORK ENVIRONMENT: Describe and explain why this is important to them. Is there anything in that office that can later affect outcome of the story?
COMMUNITY: What's the community like? Urban? Rural? Resort? How does it play into the story?
I'd like to go into Chris Vogler's book "The Writers' Journey" and "Heroes and Heroines" by Viders, Cowden and LaFever at some point. These give valuable tips as to what role the characters play in the story, how they interact with others and themselves.
You don't have to do the chart all at once. (unless you want to) my main goal here is for you to have the tools as the story goes along, to know what they might do from their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and background. Just like us.
Oh yeah, and to make sure the character starts out with blue eyes and ends up with blue eyes. Stuff like that.