Creating a Character

This is a very complex subject.

Character is all about who the person is from a deep psychological point of view. It involves all the character's life experiences, their environment, their circumstances at the particular moment in time that we are viewing them in and any other characters that are involved with them and how they relate to the character in question.

Developing a character requires that you ask the "Who, What, Where, When, How and Why" questions.

In order to help you create a character, I've come up with a series of lists that you can pick and choose from to help you "build a character type".

Here’s what you do: Using the list below randomly pick out one of the descriptive terms under each of the headings and fill in the Character Worksheet Form. Some of the headings can have more than one description so feel free to be creative. You can do this on a conscious level, looking over the list and picking out the ones that appeal to you the most. Another more fun and random way of doing it is to close your eyes, swirl your hand around and then point blindly to the page. Open your eyes and see what you’re pointing to then fill in the form. Sometimes you can come up with some pretty weird characters. I’ve also put numbers beside all the options so you can roll some dice if you want to choose that way.

Create two or three characters that will interact with each other in some way.

There’s another list after that which has a whole bunch of locations. Do the same thing and randomly pick where you want the characters to be. End this off with a choice of film genre.

Character Type
These are the generic terms that can be associated with your character. They really form more of a general title. (Feel free to add to any of these lists.)

(Just because you pick “Hero” or “Villain” does not force that character into the stereotypical physical representation, nor does it make them an absolute hero in the “superhero” sense.)

1) Hero
2) Villain
3) Sidekick
4) Friend
5) Girl Friend
6) Boy Friend
7) Victim - Hostage/ Leverage

8) Innocent Bystander
9) Passive Observer
10) Crowd Member
11) Unexpected Helper
12) Diva
13) Pet

This can be altered after the fact if it doesn’t suit your character or the relationship with another character

1) Male
2) Female

Again, this can be altered after the fact if it doesn’t suit your character or the
relationship with another character as well.

1) Infant
2) Child
3) Tween
4) Teen

5) Young Adult
6) Adult
7) Middle Aged
8) Elder

Though not absolutely necessary, this could affect the character’s physical visual representation and might be helpful. I’ll keep it broad and up to you to edit to your personal needs. (This can also include aliens from other planets or dimensions if you want.)

?1) Caucasian
2) African
3) Central American
4) Asia/Pacific
5) Central European
6) Middle East
7) Northern Europe
8) East Indian
9) Asia
10) South American
11) Southern European
12) Native American
13) Aliens

Family Position
This represents your relationship or family title. It may seem unimportant but it creates a sense of responsibility or hierarchy within the social realm.

Immediate Family Member Close Relative Distant Relative
1) Father
2) Mother
3) Husband
4) Wife
5) Son
6) Daughter
7) Brother
8) Sister

9) Cousin
10) Uncle
11) Aunt
12) Grandfather
13) Grandmother
14) In-Laws
15) Great Grandparents
16) 2nd Cousins
17) 2nd Aunts
18) 2nd Uncles

Animal Order
Again, this is not necessary, however if you want to make your character into an anthropomorphic animal, here’s a broad list to choose from.

1) Ape
2) Cattle
3) Horse
4) Dinosaur
5) Bear
6) Deer
7) Lizard
8) Marsupial
9) Bird
10) Dog
11) Fish
12) Elephant
13) Camel
14) Insect
15) Mouse
16) Giraffe
17) Cat
18) Weasel
19) Squirrel
20) Hippo

There are hundreds of options here so I haven’t listed them all. (I’m not a vocational guidance counselor.) Under Associates, these are people that you deal with on a regular daily basis. A Servant could also be a person who provides you with a
service like a checkout clerk in a store or a delivery person for a courier company.

Under Service and Occupation are headings. You can fill in the specific job if you just give it a moment of thought. For example, under Medicine you can be a doctor, nurse, technician, dentist, etc.

1) Boss
2) Co-worker
3) Teacher
4) Co-student
5) Neighbor

1) Maid
2) Butler
3) Cook
4) Driver

1) Arts
2) Science
3) Medicine
4) Technology
5) Education
6) Service
7) Military
8) Government
9) Information
10) Agricultural
11) Environment
12) Shipping
13) Packaging

14) Recreation
15) Development
16) Management
17) Production
18) Sales
19) Warehousing

This is not an important issue with your character unless your story or situation revolves around a religious issue or your character is a God (it helps to know which God you are).

Physical Attributes
This is anything that distinguishes this person’s physical appearance. Describe what they look like.

1) Gigantic (over 8’)
2) Very tall (6 1/2’ - 8’)
3) Tall (6’ - 6 1/2’)
4) Medium (5 1/2’ - 6’)
5) Short (5’ - 5 1/2’)
6) Dwarf (4 1/2’ - 5’)
7) Midget (3’ - 4 1/2’)
8) Tiny (under 3’)

Body Size
1) Morbidly Obese
2) Obese
3) Fat
4) Pudgy
5) Fit
6) Muscular
7) Super hero
8) Trim
9) Thin
10) Skinny
11) Emancipated

1) Top heavy
2) Middle heavy
3) Bottom heavy
4) Hour glass
5) Barrel chested
6) Balanced

There are all the other features of the body that you can list as well such as:

Hair style
Hair colour
Head shape
Eye shape, colour and size
Nose size and shape
Mouth size and shape
Tooth condition
Chin size and shape
Ear size and shape
Neck size

Shoulder size
Arm length,size & proportion
Hand size
Chest size
Stomach size
Waist size
Hip size
Butt size
Leg length and size
Foot size

Physical Defects
You may also list any physical handicaps that the character might have such as a limp, paralysis, blindness, deafness, etc.

1) Gimpy leg
2) Gimpy arm
3) War wound
4) Bad cold
5) Arthritis
6) Back ache
7) Kidney stones

8) Deafness
9) Hard of hearing
10) Stiff neck
11) Paraplegic
12) Quadriplegic
13) Broken bones
14) Crutches
15) Blind
16) Short sighted
17) Reading glasses
18) Siamese twins
19) Bad knees
20) Head ache
21) Ear ache

This heading covers a lot of areas so I’ve just clumped them all together. Pick and choose these for: Morality, Personal Frustrations, Complexes, and Quirks or even
Special Abilities.

Personal Traits/Disorders
1) Organized - Disorganized
2) Obsessive - Compulsive
3) Passive - Aggressive

1) Devious/Deceptive - Liar
2) Honest/Trustworthy - Truthful

1) Dependent (Momma’s Boy)
2) Histrionic (Exaggerated helplessness)
3) Creative - Destructive
4) Anarchist
5) Deranged
6) Narcissistic (Self Importance)
7) Oddball
8) Nerd
9) Weirdo
10) Goof
11) Twit

1) Psychotic (Crazy)
2) Anti-social (Con Artist)
3) Possessive
4) Confused
5) Vegetarian
6) Homicidal
7) Suicidal
8) Cannibalistic

This is your social placement within society. You are born into a specific social class that your parents have attained. You have the ability to move up or down within this range by either working for it or marrying into it (except for the Deity, although I suppose the story of Hercules could have turned out different if he had made an alternate choice).

1) Deity
2) Royalty
3) Wealthy
4) Executive
5) Upper
6) Middle
7) Working

8) Lower
9) Poverty
10) Destitute

This is an indicator of a person’s academic achievement on a scholastic level. This can
sometimes be linked with Intelligence level but is not dependent upon it.

1) Doctorate
2) Degree
3) University
4) College Diploma
5) High School
6) Grade School
7) None

Fitness Level

1) Athletic
2) Healthy
3) Fit
4) Unhealthy

5) Overweight
6) Obese
7) Uncoordinated
8) Spastic

Home Life
This is only important if there is some form of relationship or if the character is affected psychologically by their situation.

1) Single
2) Married
3) Separated
4) Mid-divorce
5) Divorced
6) Lives on street
7 ) Lives in hostel

1) Lives alone
2) Lives with roommate(s)
3) Lives with spouse
4) Lives with parent(s)
5) Lives with relatives

Personal Ambitions
These can be the dreams that they have for their future.

1) Get a job
2) Get married
3) Get a friend
4) Own a house
5) Own a vehicle
6) Get a promotion
7) Get a raise
8) Become famous
9) Become rich
10) Be a leader of a country
11) Be the leader of the world
12) Be the ruler of the universe

Personal Frustrations
These can simply be the opposites of the above or they can also be a “pet peeve” or something that really bothers them. These usually manifest themselves through other peoples actions or the results of other peoples actions. Again, this is a
general list which can be added to.

1) Eating with mouth open
2) Ignorance
3) Bad manners
4) Burping
5) Farting
6) Picking your nose
7) Blowing nose without a tissue
8) Butting in line
9) Not cleaning up

1) Toilet seats left up
2) Leaving garbage or...
3) Clothing on floor
4) Missed appointments/dates

This is how your character handles themselves in certain situations.

1) Even
2) High strung
3) Ambivalent

4) Moody
5) Calm

You can get some interesting characters if you mix and match the opposites of Memory and Intelligence like the absent minded professor type.

1) Photographic
2) Average
3) Good
4) Selective

5) Forgetful
6) Absent Minded

7) Alzheimer’s

Intelligence Level
This is another one of those things that you are sort of born into, to a certain extent. It’s more of a gene thing I suppose.

1) Omnipotent (All Powerful)
2) Omniscient (All Knowing)
3) Super Genius
4) Genius
5) Very Smart
6) Smart
7) Average

8) Below Average
9) Stupid
10) Dumb
11) Idiot
12) Moron
13) Vegetable
14) Comatose

A special ability that is good at parties, school recitals, or on a date.

1) Artistic
2) Singing
3) Dancing
4) Juggling
5) Musical instrument

6) Crossing eyes
7) Wiggling ears
8) Rolling tongue
9) Recites limericks
10) Does impersonations

Special Abilities
This is like any super powers.

1) Flying
2) X-ray vision
3) Can run fast
4) Is double jointed
5) Knows Tai Chi
6) Can stretch
7) Super farts

8) Walks thru walls
9) Clings to walls
10) Heat vision
11) Knows Kung Fu
12) Cooks really well

13) Super burps
14) Talks to animals


Here are a bunch of location ideas to put your character into.

Gas Station

- Kindergarten
- Private School
- Grade School
- High School
- College
- University
- Day Care

Swimming Pool
- Whirlpool
- Pool side
- Change room


Fitness Club
- Weight Room
- Bike Room
- Aerobics

Baseball Diamond

Football Field

Tennis Courts

Squash Court

Outdoor Playground
- Swings
- Slide
- Teeter Totter


Shopping Mall

Grocery Store

Parking Lot

- Drive Through
- Salad Bar
- Fast Food Lineup

Train Station

Bus Station


Convenience Store

Pizza Shop

Hardware Store

Furniture Store

Toy Store

Book Store

Office Supply Store

Electronics Store

Repair Shop

Sports Store

Ice Rink

Candy Counter

Candy Machines

Pop Machine

Gum Ball Machine

Zamboni Garage

Gas Station

Auto Repair Shop

Auto Wreckers

Car Dealership

Water Fountain


Boat Rental

Bike Rental
Inline Skate Rental

Skate Board Park

Monster Truck Rally

Wrestling Event

- Intensive Care
- Maternity Ward
- Room
- Operating Room
- Reception

Doctor’s Office
- Waiting Room
- Examination Room
- Wash Room

Dentist’s Office

- Teller
- ABM Machine
- Vault
- Manager’s Office

Military Complex
- Barracks
- Main Gate
- Munitions Depot
- Airplane Hanger

Airplane Terminal
- Ticket Counter
- Baggage Pickup
- Customs
- Plane Seats
- 1st Class
- Economy
- Hospitality

Taxi Cab

Hotel Room


?Here’s a list of different film genres to kick start your brain and give your characters a direction.

Art Film
Black Comedy
Detective Story/Courtroom Drama
Film Noir
Ghost Story
The Heist
Science Fiction
Social Drama

Of course you can mix and match these in practically any combination to create a variation on a theme.

Some examples could be:
• Action/Adventure/Comedy
• Musical/Mystery?Romance
• Biographic/Western
• Children’s/Fantasy

There are also some combinations you’d probably want to stay away from (unless you add Comedy):
• Action/Adventure/Musical
• Children’s/Horror
• Avant Garde/Biographic/Historical/Documentary/Musical

Try to settle on a mix of two genres for your story. To start with, that is. Keep the possibility open that you might be able to spice up your story with little bits of a third genre, but -- proceed with caution, "More than two genres is a mess."

Now go back and fill in the Character Worksheet Form. Do it for two or thee characters. Pick a location and a genre and see what you can come up with.

After the character form has been filled out, make any revisions you want to to make the characters work well together. If they have some of the same things filled in, try coming up with something different to add spice to their being together.

Once you’ve revised the form, write a short paragraph or two that describes the character more fully. Give a short history on where they came from, where they are now and where they’re going. Add in any relationship information about the other characters as well.

Most of the times, this will spark a situation that the characters may be involved in. Write this out as well as a short story. Keep going until you hit a dead end. If you can’t think of anything else, either back up and try a different direction or put it down for a while. Let the idea stew for a bit. Talk it over with some friends and see what they can offer.

This process can take a bit of time so don’t be discouraged if it goes for a month or so. I sat on an idea for over 12 years before I worked it through.

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