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The Comprehensive Character Creation Checklist!


As a child, born in the ancient kingdom of Elmet, (now part of Yorkshire) I fell in love with the magic that seemed to come from a certain kind of book - namely C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings - then discovered that these two authors were best friends.

Over 40 years of intensive research into the world’s greatest authors, I’ve discovered powerful principles about fiction, tried and tested.

Now I’ve established Clarendon House Publications as a massive support structure for writers of fiction.

This checklist requires a little work, but it is designed to quickly give you not only a main character who comes to fully-rounded life but also a set of sub-characters who breathe, appear three dimensional and could possibly act to enhance your story.

Built upon universal principles as used by the world’s greatest authors, you’ll find that doing these steps will free up your own creativity and make you more determined than ever to overcome the obstacles and get your book finished!

1. Use This Background Template (but realise that it’s not what it seems!)

Traditional writing advice will tell you that you should develop a ‘character file’, full of details covering everything from a character’s birthday to his or her favourite colour.

By all means do so - but don’t expect the result to be a living, rounded character from whom you can grow a vibrant story.

Here’s a radical new template - but you should only do this step if you promise to do the next! Only then will you see what is really going on here!

Fill this out:

Your character’s name

A pleasant or wanted pastime, something your character would dearly want to do or loves doing

A beloved family member (probably a parent)

An admired friend

A beloved location

A comfort zone - what makes our character feel at ease?

A trusted advisor or mentor

A couple of central beliefs and/or plans for the short and medium term

A job or role in life - what does your character do?

2. Extract, Remove, Take Away and Otherwise Put Space Between Your Main Character and Something He Or She Needs (but in the following order…)

Take away a small comfort, or put a barrier between your character and something that he/she loves doing

Then remove a friend or parent, either temporarily or permanently

Then remove a location or comfort zone - either destroy it or have the character forced to move away from it

Then remove an advisor or mentor, by death or disaster

Have plans go seriously wrong (if they haven’t already)

Extract physical well-being - actually have something physically harmful happen to your character

Then place the character in serious danger of losing his or her life and/or sanity in a big way

Phew! I know it can be horrible to treat your creation in this way, denying him or her the things he or she loves or needs, and even causing harm. But what you now have is a character with energy, rather than a lifeless file full of biographical details.

But we’re not finished yet.

Whether you’re writing a short story or a full-length novel, a play or a screenplay, try the following step.

3. Invent A Short Background Template For Each Of The Following Characters (whether or not you have any of them in your story)

A comic companion

A female companion

An older, street-wise companion

A wise old man or woman (not the same as the older, street-wise companion)

A character very much like your main character, but who has made darker choices

An antagonist - someone whose needs or dreams are exactly opposite to your main character

4. For Each Of The Above, Extract, Remove, Take Away and Otherwise Put Space Between Them and Something He Or She Needs (just as before…)

Take away a small comfort, or put a barrier between your character and something that he/she loves doing

Then remove a friend or parent, either temporarily or permanently

Then remove a location or comfort zone - either destroy it or have the character forced to move away from it

Then remove an advisor or mentor, by death or disaster

Have plans go seriously wrong (if they haven’t already)

Extract physical well-being - actually have something physically harmful happen to your character

Then place the character in serious danger of losing his or her life and/or sanity in a big way

Not all of these will apply to these other characters, but some of them will.

Now you should have a company of characters who are no longer two-dimensional but who are ready to go into action.

5. If You Feel That It Is Appropriate For Your Story, Build Some Of The Above Characters Into It.

You should now have the seeds or framework for a plot and possibly several sub-plots.

Go over it all again and adjust what needs to be adjusted.

This whole exercise might take you a couple of hours - but it has probably saved you days, weeks, possibly months of frustration and should have opened the door to a much more powerful story or even a set of stories.

One side effect might have been that you now feel much more motivated to get on with your writing.

Next?

Get the completely FREE Powerful, Purpose-filled Plot Creation Checklist!


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Hello, my name is Grant Hudson and what you will see on these pages is a reflection of who I am, my interests, and what I can do for you. 

 

I am a published author and poet, have over 5,000 items of merchandise available featuring my artwork, have edited and published many books, taught many people, made many more laugh (education and laughter go well together) and have delved into business on many levels.

 

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