Character Flaw Worksheet

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I’m new to this whole writing business, and when I first heard about character flaws, I thought they were some way the author messed up writing their character…I had no idea they were what drove the story.

I recently attended a novel boot camp by Ellen Brock, a freelance editor, and she gave a great few lectures (on You Tube) about creating a protagonist people will want to read about.  After listening to her instruction, I sought out some info on the web and have come up with this worksheet to help me identify character flaws in my protagonists, I hope it helps you too.  When you are done with this, head over to my Story Structure Worksheet.

  1. What is the lie your character believes?
    1. My character believes she will never give her heart away again, it has been broken and she has no desire to relive that experience again.  She is content living her life alone, with only the love from the past.
  2. Where did this lie come from, what is it’s origin?
    1. When her boyfriend died in an accident, she feels her heart tear in two.  She believes she can never feel that way about another person again, so why try?
  3. What is the truth?
    1. When she meets the right person, her heart will heal from the past and she is capable of loving just as deeply again.
  4. What goal does your protagonist have? (this is fairly superficial and easily identifiable)
    1. She wants to find peace.
  5. What is your character’s motivation behind this goal?
    1. She thinks finding peace will allow her to move on with her life, not necessarily find love again, but help her from the depression she has fallen into over the loss of her loved one.  With peace she can at least be a productive member of society, like her father taught her.
  6. Now put all of your information into one complete sentence or a couple.
    1. After the death of her high school sweetheart, Sarah is content believing her heart will never love again.  She only wants to find peace with Jeremy’s loss, so she travels to the California coast where she meets a green-eyed surfer under the Pismo Beach Pier.  From the moment his green eyes meet hers, everything she once thought to be true about her past begins to unravel.

Character Arc Worksheet PDF Version

Character Arc Worksheet Microsoft Word Version

Character Arc Worksheet

 

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Character Questionnaire

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I recently hit a low point in my writing, I found out one of my main characters had no personality, gasp!  So, I did something I swore I would never do, I filled out a couple of character questionnaires and voila, Jeremy suddenly had an awesome backstory that opened him up to some great character flaws.  Now, the questionnaires I filled out were a little repetitive and didn’t give me much room to scratch down my answers, so I combined them and put one together that I plan to use in the future.  If you are stuck or maybe just want to add a little more depth to your characters, give this a shot, you might be surprised what you come up with.

Outline of Questionnaire

A.  First, we find out a little about where your character it at when your story begins (29 questions).

B.  Second, we delve into your character’s parents and grandparents.  This is important because what your character’s family has experienced will influence the type of person your protagonist is, and will become (4 questions, each with a set of sub-questions).

C.  Third, we take a look at your character’s life.  How were they growing up, did they have it good or was it total chaos?  How many siblings did they have, did they like them?  What were their goals and dreams and did they ever reach those goals?  Answering these questions will make your character feel real and believable (12 questions, each with a set of sub-questions broken into age categories:  childhood, teens, young adult, adult, midlife, and senior years).

D.  After you’ve had a chance to reflect on these questions, I recommend you fill out the Character Flaw Worksheet I have provided.  This one is much shorter, only 5 questions-without sub-questions.

Happy writing!

Character Questionnaire PDF Version

Character Questionnaire Microsoft Word Version

Character Questionnaire Present Tense

Character Questionnaire Pedigree Chart

Character Questionnaire Parents

Character Questionnaire Past and Future