Characters are the HEART of your story, be they protagonists, antagonists, or accordionists! How lives and breathes your character, so lives and breathes your narrative.

The thing that matters the most in story is character.  Events and encounters only matter in so much as they affect a person. If you are a roleplayer, your character is you, so of course you experience what they experience. If you’re a writer, you invest so much energy into the character through which your readers will live the story. The more well-built your characters are in any creative endeavor, the more satisfying the journey is. The greater the character development, the greater the tension when encountering peril.

So where do you start? One critical starting point is motivation. As you think of your story, ask yourself why anything in the plot matters to your characters. It should matter a lot. If it doesn’t, you have to crank up the reason your characters care. In other words, if your characters are absolutely desperate to reach a goal, your audience will be, too. You can check out our motivation page here for more ideas. 

Another important consideration is the types of relationships your characters have with the folks around them. For example, what is their status at work? Are they in charge of anything or simply a minion? Do people like them or are they an outcast? Who are their supports and who is against them? Such questions deepen the reality of your characters which, in turn, deepens the experience of your audience.

Character Considerations

  • name, title, given name, nickname, family name, surname, rank, pet name, code name, pseudonym, alias, honorary name, secret name, heraldry, lineage, accreditation (even ones that may have been revoked),
  • type, style, kind, species, occupation, role, path, class, work, education, bent, aptitude, focus,
  • career, job, area of study, hobby, occupation,  particular skill set,
  • training, proficiency, abilities, strengths, talents, skills, study,
  • descriptions, details, traits,
  • physical description, height, weight, looks, charisma,
  • intellect, smarts, brains, ideas, brilliance, mental blocks, knowledge, study,
  • social skills, personality, relatablility, relationships,
  • emotions, emotional traits, demeanour, sanity,
  • habits, addictions, weakness, cravings, perversions, urges,
  • reflection, self-image,
  • fears, phobias, quirks, idiosyncracies, oddities, weirdness, flaws,
  • age, youth, experience, wisdom, life learning,
  • social status, rank, level, standing,
  • backstory, history, life story, memories, past, sordid past, dark past,
  • dreams, hopes, desires, wishes, aspirations, pursuits, quests, visions,
  • health, state of being, wellness, stability (or lack there of), illness, sickness, disease, ailments, sores, aches, pains, sniffles, infections, afflictions, pox,
  • home town, star system of origin, stomping grounds,
  • beliefs, values, religion,
  • friends, relationships, affiliations, clubs, memberships, guilds,
  • species-based abilities, enabling mutations, powers, special powers, superpowers,
  • enemies, political rival, stalking monster, evil foe, nagging boss, feuding faction, schoolyard bully, tyrants, opposition, nemesis,
  • spell casting, fey strength, energy manipulation, elemental control, magic,
  • disability, challenge, handicap,
  • injury, scars, marks,
  • curse, vex, hex,
  • sins, secrets, lies, cheats, betrayals, sordid past, skeletons in the closet,
  • stuff, prize possessions, collections, sentimental things, toys, weapons, heirlooms, hand-me-downs,

More Notes and Ideas for Characters

  • Character Species are fun to play around with — alien races, mythical bloodlines, hybrid humans, humanoids, and so on. Most of the time a character is human; however in fantasy, steampunk, or conspiracy theory storytelling, you can have all kinds of “people” like forest elves and dwarves and tentacled menaces in your world. In sci-fi you can have all kinds of alien species, mutants, and robots; in horror, lots of nasty monsters and grotesques; and in… well… any genre, you can play around with sentient and intelligent species, including full-on Monsters!
  • Your character’s backstory is the compilation of their experiences and background. Use the menus in the Backstory section to help you explore all the possibilities.
  • Where does your character sit in terms of his or her social status? This can affect all kinds of things like their income, job prospects, education, standing in the community, reputation, and opportunity.
  • What kind of relationships does your character have or have they had in the past?
  • Check out the Idiosyncrasies Menu to add something strange or weird to your character. Everyone has their strengths… but they also have quirks, weaknesses, phobias, obsessions, habits, cravings, addictions, wishes, secrets, nightmares, collections, trauma, sensitivities, burdens, and strange thoughts. Or is it just me?