How to do a Character Chart

I briefly covered this in my other post “Tips for New Writers,” but I decided I’ll go more in-depth so a character chart will be easier for you guys 🙂 Either new writers or continuing, tips can still be taken from this! I’ve been writing since junior high, but I still learn till this day about writing.

Just like art, drawing a person takes steps, takes time. But the little pieces form one unit, one person.

So, I gave a very small example in my other post of a small character chart. Here’s mine that I did for Hayden in my series:

“Gold dragon- Girl, sixteen, leader, champagne blonde hair, brown eyes, funny but serious since she’s the leader. Powers? Speed, move objects with mind, controls electricity. Fire? blue and purple. Wings? Gold with black spikes at the bottom. 12 feet. Name: Hayden Cressida. 5’6” ”

It’s very short, and that’s how I wanted it to be just to get the main components out on paper. This is advisable to get your story started as well 🙂 Just the basics! Personally I very much enjoy building a character on my own and not in a chart, but for those of you that do, I have a fun little suggestion. Ready?

Do it in first person.

Act like you’re interviewing your character, and eventually their own personality will come out. I’ll give a pretty long example below, and I’ll go ahead and dig into Trevor’s character for you, since he hasn’t gotten much love in this blog.

First, here’s my small character chart for Trevor:

“Green dragon- Boy, seventeen, brown hair, green eyes, the strong type in the group, blind in his peripheral vision, deaf. Powers? can pick up on moods, read minds, start machines by touching them, while screeching can force people through walls. Fire? Green and yellow. Wings? Green with yellow tint. 13 feet. Name: Trevor Soares. 6’4” ”

Yeah, he’s a tall fellow. So, let’s get into the “interview” process. When doing this, act like this person actually exists. Pretend they’re moving in front of you. What do they tend to do? Do they fidget, have a huge ego, or simply smile a lot? How do they speak: loud, quietly, or at a variety of pitches? Do they chuckle a lot?

I’ll put in movements in here too for an example. So, here we go.

Interview with Trevor Soares:

What’s your name?

You already put it down. Mind scratching out the last name? *leans forward and rips the paper where his last name is, then smiles*

How tall are you?

*sits up straighter* six foot four. I think maybe four inches and three-quaters. Have measuring tape?

No, sorry. What’s your favorite food?

Anything meat oriented. Raw.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Girls gone wild. *laughs* nah, too busy running around to watch movies.

How old are you?

Seventeen. Not sure when my birthday is though. Does my slightly scruffy beard help my age? *scratches his chin and smiles*

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Flying, of course. That, or messing with Evelyn.

Is she your best friend?

Uhh…*slightly scrunches his face* no. Aryc is, but Evelyn is in a different aspect. She’s special.

I see, I see.

What’s that supposed to mean? *narrows eyes* I love her like a sister, I protect her with everything I have. Well, doesn’t look like much *gestures to his thin shape* but I do what I can *smiles*

Alright, have a favorite type of music?

Nope.

If you had to pick the best thing about yourself, what would it be?

*snorts a laugh* I guess that I’m not dead. Does that count?

There has to be something about yourself that you really like.

*tugs at his sweatbands and shrugs* I guess the wings. I like the color in them. *slight pause* And Evelyn too. She’s the best part of me.

How long have you had those sweatbands?

*shrugs, tugs on them harder* A while. I tend to go through them pretty quickly.

Do they help relieve stress?

Yeah. Kind of. I can’t control the things I pick up on.

Is that one of your attributes?

*nods* I can pick up on vibes, as well as read thoughts. Some things naturally come to me, and  I don’t think people realize how dark some things get in their minds.

But it’s weird because…*shifts slightly in his seat* some people actually have good thoughts an abundance of the time. I envy them.

That must be very difficult to put up with sometimes.

There are worse things. Much worse things.

Would you like me to change topics?

*nods* but wouldn’t you like to know about these guys? *points to his ears*

Earpieces?

*nods again* I was born deaf, that’s why I slightly slur when I talk. The weirdest people think it’s because of a bad tongue piercing or something. But no thank you, I’d rather have my tongue free *winks*

Whatever works for you! So, when did you become a part of the family you’re with now?

It’s technically called a clan. But Hayden set me free about five years ago, and I’m very happy with them now. I mean *cocks his head a bit* thoughts still bother me of my past, but whose doesn’t? I have the clan now, and I’m appreciative. For anyone who still feels trapped, my empathy directs to them.

I’m sure. Do you have a leader in your “clan”?

Yes, that’d be Hayden. She’s great.

Do you have a certain role in the clan?

Ummm *scratches his head* staying alive? I guess if I had one, it’d be to pick out any enemies nearby. I have the highest sense of smell, and I can detect anyone much farther away than the rest can. Plus the vibe catching thing helps too, considering I can pick up on bad intentions.

It gets tricky sometimes because people know how to hide things really well, but I’m able to pick the back of the brain too where your deepest thoughts are, and there I can tell if someone is really a threat or not.

Seems like you’re always on guard with enemies.

Obviously. Keep up with the program here, Sara *laughs*

Then I’m sure your favorite thing to do is just relax, isn’t it?

Absolutely. *pauses for a moment* especially with Evelyn. She makes me the happiest. *looks down and slightly smiles*

So, I must ask, is the rest of the clan built in the same body frame as you?

No, I’m the thinnest. I mean, the rest are fairly thin because we need to be able to fly, after all, but I’m the smallest in frame. Tallest, but the thinnest. I have no idea where in the world all the food goes!

I hate to get back to the heavy, but what scares you the most?

Nothing. Men don’t get scared.

Well, there must be something. Afraid of death?

No. I welcome it, in fact. If I die protecting someone I love, then it’s worth it. All of us are like that though; we’re built to hide every fear, especially in fights. Show fear and lose, since your focus becomes lost.

Do you consider yourself a good fighter?

All of us are, but I consider myself one, yes. Hard of hearing and blind in my peripheral vision, but I catch vibes and thoughts, so I’m able to dodge really easily and predict what my opponent will do next. Aryc is the best fighter though. *slightly shudders* don’t get on his bad side.

So, half of your DNA is of a dragon’s. Do you consider yourself more human or animal?

*laughs* depends what situation I’m in. I mainly consider myself more human though. Instincts just sometimes get the best of us.

Do you consider your instincts a positive or negative?

Positive. No doubt. If I didn’t have them, then I’d be dead by now from the dangers we face. And, I mean, I like being different than everyone else. I may complain about it sometimes, but I do enjoy it. I’ve always been different nonetheless, so might as well have an excuse to go along with it *chuckles*

Any other details we should know about you?

Ummm…*shifts around a bit more* not really. Dig too deep and I get feisty, and not the good kind *laughs*

There you go! That’s a more in-depth character chart for you. Ask deep questions, and have fun with their personality. Some will be more blunt, and some won’t even answer the questions at all. Characters really do have a personality, so don’t be shy in taking a long time making a character chart.

But remember: always leave room for growth. Don’t limit your character or their personality, let them grow and shape into whoever they want to be.

Keep reading, and keep writing!

-Sara R.

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