Question from the e-mail: I lost the materials I had from the course I took with you. Do you still have the character planning sheet from the course.
Answer: Actually the one from the course is copyrighted to Writer's Digest and as I no longer work for them, I can't distribute it now. Here, instead, is one that I originated and you will find it quite different from the other, but still, I think, useful.
Who IS Your Character?
Plot should come out of character, evolving naturally from each character's beliefs and desires. To understand your characters' feelings, take a look at the events that shaped their lives. Look first at the character's emotional life, then at world events.
Use the following interview sheet to get closer to your characters. Remember, good characters do things for good reasons and bad characters do things for bad reasons, but all characters should have a reason (motivation)to do what they do. Fill our a sheet for each major character. Questions with a (*) must be answered.
Name, date of birth and place of residence? (*)
What does he or she want? (*)
What stands in his or her way? (*)
How will the character be changed by what happens in the story? (*)
What is the character’s reason for taking action?
What are his or her strengths and weaknesses? (*)
What secrets does the character have?
What childhood or personal events shaped the character’s life?
What world events shaped the character?
Physical description: (*) (Hint: Sometimes it helps to pick an actor to play the role, so you will have a visual image of what he or she looks like)