Monday, July 11, 2011

Character Sheets: Adding Dimension to Your Protagonist

Character Sheets: Adding Dimension to Your Protagonist
By Karen Cioffi

Connecting with a reader entails a couple of things, one of which is to have a fully developed protagonist. A crucial aspect of creating a real character is his/her interactions with the other characters in the story, and his/her reactions to external influences. These reactions to external surroundings or occurrences add layers to your protagonist.

To be able to write with this type of clarity and dimension for your protagonist, you need to know every detail of your protagonist's character. Even if you learn tidbits here and there as the story progresses, those new bits and pieces of the characters traits will need to be remembered and possibly used again. An excellent way to do keep track of your protagonist’s characteristics is to create a character sheet.

Using Character Sheets

Make note on your character sheet of every reaction and interaction your character has with another character. As with actual life, we interact differently with different people in our lives. A boy will not react to a friend the same way he does a brother. He will not react the same to a sister as he does a brother. The same holds true for all other relationships. All these different interactions help create a fully dimensional protagonist.

As you're creating your story's characters' dynamics, keep in mind that all characters play a part in creating a realistic story, even in fantasy and sci-fi. What this means is that your protagonist needs a responsive partner or team member (character) when interacting, otherwise the interaction will feel one-sided and flat.

Create Character Continuity

In order to create a continuity of character traits for all characters, each character needs a character sheet. While for some this may seem tedious, it is well worth the effort. You may be three quarters through the book and can't remember how character A interacted with character D. You won't want to have to search through the story to find this little tidbit of information.

Also, keep in mind that each character will have his/her own motivation for actions and reactions. This is part of their character traits and should be listed on their character sheet.

Remember, every action, reaction and interaction created in your story will not only develop the protagonist, but also the other characters in the story.

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Other Writing Articles:

Is Your Manuscript Ready for Submission?
10 Great Writing Article Links
Giving Basic Writing Advice
How to Create an Ebook: 5 Simple Steps

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Until next time,


Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, and
Acquisitions Editor Intern for 4RV Publishing

Member of the Professional Writers Alliance, the International Association of Professional Ghostwriters, and the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors.

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2 comments:

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wonderful post, Karen! I keep notes on my characters, but haven't extended it to cover reactions the characters have to each other. I can see how it would be helpful in novels.

Karen Cioffi said...

Sharon, thanks. I'm so glad you found some of it useful.