Saturday, September 26, 2009

The essence of character analysis

There are certain things that make a story’s character unique. Whether it is the kinky hairstyle, the way they always chew a toothpick, or their unerring strive towards justice, there is something that makes them special. But, your person is more than just that one unique quality. They are many stones that build up the base of your character’s personality, even if only one or two of them are easily recognized. One of the best ways I have found to create (or flesh out) a character is to write up an analysis of their character, what makes them tick. Here is my personalized list of what I do when trying to flesh out a hero, heroine, bad guy, or sidekick for my stories.

    Physical Description
    - Full name, including nicknames, maiden names, and aliases
    - Height, weight, age, sex, and race
    - Hair color and style, eye color, face shape
    - Tattoos, body piercings, scars, moles, freckles
    - Clothing, makeup, and jewelry preferences
    - Physical movements or quirks
    - Talkative or silent? Morose or happy? Introvert or extrovert?

    Writing Description
    - What words would you use to describe the character?
    - What phrases would be good to associate with the character?
    - What objects are associated with the character?
    - What places are associated with the character?
    - Are there any manners or morays of the time the character is in that affect the traits of the character?

    Morality and Motivation
    - What is the character’s moral compass set to?
    - What is the character’s core motivation?
    - Will this character change throughout the story?
    - Will this change in the character also affect the moral compass?
    - How will this change affect the others?

    - Are the characters actions normally wise or unwise?
    - Does the character think before acting, or more spur-of-the-moment?
    - What is the effect of the character’s actions on others?
    - Does the character have special moves or ways of doing things?

    Author’s Preference
    - What do you like about the character?
    - What do you dislike about the character?
I hope this outline of a simple character analysis helps anyone who is having trouble making their characters real or unique. At the very least, I hope this spurs whoever reads this into making a character list of their own.

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to respond to this post for days now. I think you have included a good list of traits that the author should know, even if some of the information is never revealed to the reader.

    I would add one additional trait that is important and which the reader will see: How the character talks.

    Is the character intelligent? Do they use big or uncommon words in complex sentences? Are they stupid and restricted to small words in fragmented sentences? Do they have an accent or affectation? And so on.

    How the character speaks will heavily influence the way they are shown to the reader.