This is the second half of my post on How to Create Compelling Characters. This is the spreadsheet I begin with. Once it is filled out I have a good idea of the character and am ready to move on to the final design. Even aliens or characters from other worlds can be created this way. The ethnicity and weight and such is strictly for you as the writer to be able to envision the character and write descriptively.
Full Name: Nick Name:
Ethnicity: caucasion; latin; black; asian; gaelic; Germanic; Scandinavian; islander; native Indian
Sex: male female
Age: Birthday: Place born:
Height: tall; short; average
Weight: fat; skinny; pot-bellied; athletic; muscular
Hair Color: black; brown; auburn; red; blonde; strawberry blonde; bleached; white; multi-colored
Hair Length: crew cut; short; ponytail; bald; wig; pigtails; waist; shoulder-length; waist-length
Hair Style: bedhead; messy; neat; greasy; sprayed; wavy; straight; curly; dreadlocks
Hair Texture: course; thick; fine; kinky
Facial/Body Hair: sideburns; bangs; beard; mustache; goatee; nose hair; ear hair; chest hair; legs/arms; back hair
Eye Color: green; brown; blue; gray; hazel; amber; black; white; combo
Eyebrows: pierced; thick; thin; fair; dark; bushy; white; wide; line; drawn; unibrow
Eyes: close; wide; crossed; lazy; large; popeyed; almond; glasses; bloodshot; glass eye
Skin Color: albino; pale; peach; tan; olive; yellow-tan; coffee-cream; light black; dark black
Skin: flabby; wrinkled; acne; scars; scaly; dry; oily; soft; shiny; birthmark; tattoo
Ears: small; large; stick out; long lobed; no lobe; # earrings; hairy
Brow: broad; small; wrinkled; furrowed; protruding
Cheeks: rosy; high bones; hollow; dimples; pimples; freckles
Nose: turned up; broad; flat; hooked; crooked; pointed; narrow; long; w/ wart
Lips: narrow; full; pale; painted; fat; pouty; pierced
Teeth: missing; bucked; yellow; scummy; white; perfect; gaps; crooked; rotted
Chin: jut out; double; none; square; cleft
Legs: fat; skinny; long; short; bowed; dimpled; knock kneed; no ankle
Hips: round; bony; tight; fat; flabby; wiggly
Stomach: flat; flabby; rolls; pudgy; protrude; jiggly; washboard; curvy
Chest: flat; muscular; large; hairy; busty; athletic; firm breasted; droopy breasted
Rich? No Yes Poor? No Yes
Pets: Like animals? No Yes Favorite animal?
Want to be:
Religion: catholic; protestant; muslim; hindu; animism; pagan; budhist; atheist; wicca
Education: Like school? No Yes Why?
Bad Habits: smoking; drinking alcohol; drugs; whores; cussing; lying; gambling; cheating
Pet Peeves: bad grammar; inconsiderate behavior; mumbling; bad drivers; pushy attitudes
Fears: bugs; heights; snakes; spiders; darkness; buried; drowning; death; evil; blood; drugs; dogs; cats; bullies; illness; parents; doctors; being alone
Why? How React?
Food Like? Food Dislike?
Favorite Meal? Allergic to?
Drink: hot coffee; cold coffee; hot tea; cold tea; soda; diet soda; juice; koolaid; beer; wine; booze; water; bottled water; daiquiri; martini; liqueur
Health: well; sickly; cancer; sick easily; never sick
Habits: shopping; eating; working; running; exercising; computers; gaming
Bothered by it? Family bothered by it?
Personality: shy; outgoing; crazy; joker; clumsy; bragger; gullible; studious; athlete; anxious; innocent; greedy; over-sexed; crier; collector; angry; techy; geek; talkative; cheap; stingy; jealous; gamer; laugh easily
I found that once I’d begun looking at characters this way, I looked at people around me differently. I study the way the waitress walks while carrying the full tray or how the cop moves in different situations. How does the person on the bus beside you sit? How do they hold their face; what type of expression. I’ve always been a people watcher, but that has changed somewhat lately. Now I study people’s facial shapes, eye distances, lip widths, nose, chins.
This is the final spreadsheet I’ve developed from about five different versions over the year. It includes all of the information I find I need when writing. It’s designed to cover as many characters as needed. I generally get three per page with the traits listed on each side of the page and character names at top and bottom. Complete it by using the information from the first spreadsheet.
While I’m writing I refer to my printed character spreadsheets in order to keep my details straight.
|FULL NAME||Character 1||Character 2||FULL NAME|
|NICK NAME||NICK NAME|
|SKIN CLR||SKIN CLR|
|SKIN TYPE||SKIN TYPE|
|HAIR CLR||HAIR CLR|
|HAIR LGTH||HAIR LGTH|
|HAIR STYL||HAIR STYL|
|HAIR TEX||HAIR TEX|
|FACIAL HAIR||FACIAL HAIR|
|BODY HAIR||BODY HAIR|
|EYE SHAPE||EYE SHAPE|
|EYE COLOR||EYE COLOR|
|EYE SPACNG||EYE SPACNG|
|BAD HABITS||BAD HABITS|
|GOOD HABITS||GOOD HABITS|
|BEST FRIEND||BEST FRIEND|
|FAV FOOD?||FAV FOOD?|
|NONFAV FOOD||NONFAV FOOD|
|TRUE NAME||TRUE NAME|
|Character 1||Character 2|
Hope this helps in your character decisions. By the time you finish with this spreadsheet you should know your characters very well, which helps with writing about them.