Creating a Character

Characters are the most important part of any story – without your characters, there is no story!

Use the resources on this page to build your own character, and start to think about their strengths and flaws!

Download and print out this worksheet to help you plan your character.

Appearance

Ask yourself some questions:

  • What does my character look like?
  • What do they wear?
  • Do they have anything that makes them stand out?

Character descriptions don’t have to be long! Here are some examples from well-known books to help you get started:


Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age. He looked even smaller and skinnier than he really was because all the had to wear were old clothes of Dudleys’ and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was. Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair and bright-green eyes. He wore round glasses held together with a lot of Sellotape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead which was shaped like a bolt of lightning.

Rooftoppers – Katherine Rundell

He noticed that it was a girl, with hair the colour of lightning, and the smile of a shy person.

The Buried Crown – Ally Sherrick

He glanced at the fair-haired young private sitting next to him. He was dressed in the uniform of the regular army, not the SS. A pale-cheeked bookish type who looked like he’d be more at home in a library than on the battlefield …


You can see from these descriptions that they can be very long or very short. It all depends on what you want your reader to know about your characters!

Activity

Find a book at home, or in the library. Look through it and find two or three descriptions of characters. What does the appearance of these characters tell you about who they are or what they are like?

Background

This is the life story of your character:

  • Their family
  • Their job or school
  • Where they live
  • What they like to do
  • Favourite food
  • Any special skills or abilities

You might not put all these things into your book or story, but it’s good to understand your characters well.

Activity

List as many details as you can about your own life. You might be surprised about how much there is to know about yourself! For each item, try to come up with something for your character.

Strengths

These are all the best things about your character. Are they brave? Clever? Honest? Strong?

Remeber that strengths don’t have to be dramatic. Some people’s best things are very quiet and small – they are very caring, for example.

To help think about what kind of person your character is, you can pick two or three things from this list of ‘types’:

The HeroA hero is someone who loves to help people, and who is very active. Celebrities and sportspeople can be great heroes.
The InnocentAn innocent is someone who doesn’t get into trouble much – but maybe they don’t understand a lot about the world, and they are easily fooled.
The EveryoneAn everyone is a person who is good at most things, and gets along well with everyone.
The OutlawAn outlaw doesn’t always follow the rules! This doesn’t mean they’re a bad person – they just like to do things differently.
The ExplorerAn explorer is always thinking of new and different ways of doing things, and exploring new ideas as well as new places.
The MagicianA magician is someone who can do things that seem impossible – maybe they can do literal magic tricks, or they are just so skilled at something that it seems like magic!
The LoverA lover is a romantic! They are always the centre of attention, and they always seem to have someone on their arm …
The CaregiverA caregiver looks after those around them, and is always putting other people’s needs before their own.
The JesterA jester is a joker! They like to make people laugh, and they always seem to have something quick, clever or funny to say.
The Wise SageA wise sage is the person everyone goes to for advice. They have a lot of knowledge, and they know how to apply it.
The CreatorA creator loves to make things out of nothing – artists, musicians, authors, even cooks, are all creators!
The RulerA ruler steps up and leads, helping those around them and making the tough decisions.

Activity

Pick two or three ‘types’ from the list that match your own character. Maybe think about your friends, and the people in your life. Now think about your character. What kind of person would you want them to be? Pick two or three ‘types’, and think of some adjectives to describe their personality.

Flaws

Simply put, a flaw is a problem! Everyone has problems, and no-one is perfect. We don’t like to think about our flaws – but they are as much a part of us as our strengths, and sometimes facing up to our flaws can help us to grow and improve.

Well-chosen flaws will make your characters come alive, and give them something to battle against as they go through the story. Often your characters’ flaws will drive the action, as they make mistakes and have to pick themselves up again.

What types of flaws are there?

Phobias

Phobias are fears, things we don’t like or avoid:

ArachnophobiaFear of spiders
ClaustrophobiaFear of enclosed or small spaces
AerophobiaFear of flying
AcrophobiaFear of heights

Overcoming a phobia can make your character much stronger!

Regrets

Maybe your character did something that hurt someone, or caused them to lose something. It’s something they regret, and it makes them sad to think about it.

Regrets are a great motivation: something that drives your character, and makes them want to change for the better.

Personality flaws

These are the things we all have, the mistakes we make in life or the things we do without thinking, that can sometimes get us into trouble:

  • Being untruthful
  • Acting or speaking without thinking
  • Hot temper
  • Forgetfulness

Activity

Pick one or two flaws for your character, and think about what they might be able to do to overcome their flaws and become a better person. What about your own flaws …? Is there something you could do better in your own life?


You’re all set to begin building your very own character!

Contact me to let me know how you get on, or share your character sheet on social media. You can tag me by using @mattwauthor!

Extra Reading

‘Why your flaw is not flawed enough’ – Making interesting and believable flaws that will help your character to grow.


Stay up to date with all the latest activities, stories and history-related posts.

5 thoughts on “Creating a Character

Add yours

    1. I’m so glad it was useful 😊 It’s very basic, obviously lots more you can do. I’m hoping to add links to other resources at the bottom.

      1. For most part of the time, the basic things usually go unnoticed and this was a good reminder for me. πŸ™‚

  1. Yes! I do that. It can be quite had to find out what people wore in the past sometimes though. Once when we were on holiday in Ireland I dragged my long-suffering family to a museum in Dublin just to look at a dress that had been found in a peat bog. Needed some imagination to bring it to life!

    1. Me too!! Victorians is quite easy due to photography, but now I’m working on a Tudor book and I’m having to be quite careful not to confuse Hollywood with actual history! It’s been fascinating doing the research though.

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