Saturday, May 17, 2008

74 Character types for your story, novel or screenplay

74 Character Types: I’m at the beginning of writing a new story and at this point I’m working on the creation of characters. I want each character to be unique and have something about them that is interesting, appealing, scary, obnoxious or fascinating. In these early stages, I’m looking at various things that make people work – some characteristic that drives their decisions. Of course, the characters will develop with more depth as I get to know them – but this is a beginning…

I’ve come up with these characteristics (and a few characters that exhibit the characteristic.) I mention some known characters, but I don’t want to make mine exactly like the one mentioned – it’s just a starting place…

1. Proper – Like Mrs Bucket in “Keeping up Appearances”
2. Miser – Silas Marner
3. Orderly, picky, OCD – Detective Monk
4. Puzzle-solving – Sherlock Holmes or Peter Whimsey
5. Adventure – Indiana Jones
6. Protective of home, environment – Tarzan
7. Gutsy woman – Katherine Hepburn in African Queen
8. Suave – James Bond
9. Insane leader – Hitler
10. Control-freak leader – The Godfather
11. Clever conniver – Time Robbins in Shawshank Redemption, MacGiver
12. Disturbed good-guy turned villain – Darth Vader
13. Self-effacing hero/friend-leader – Charlie Brown
14. Loyal – Sam in Lord of the Rings, Alfred in Batman
15. Misplaced loyalty –Alec Guinness in Bridge over River Kwai
16. Crazed intellect – Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove, Dr. Brown in Back to Future
17. Unexpected hero – Rick in Casablanca
18. Normal guy put in unexpected danger – Cary Grant in North by Northwest
19. Gives up own desires to help others -- Jimmy Stewart in Wonderful Life
20. Bucks society norms to fight for justice – Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird
21. Naive hero – Forrest Gump
22. Overcome unfairness – Women in 9 to 5, Working Girl
23. Dreamer – Dorothy in Wizard of Oz

I could go on… here are some other driving characteristics that come to mind. Think of about people for whom this characteristic colors all their decisions: power, sex, love, money, success, revenge, survival, defense, learning, science, politics, helping others, shyness, gullibility, prejudice, bigotry, handicapped, blind, sick, cancer, congestive heart failure, health, workout, obesity, stuttering, bulimia, hearing, bald, ugly, sexy, beautiful, lonely, ignored, misused, perfectionist, just, (un)acceptance, purpose, greed, warrior, street-fighter, class clown, want children, want a spouse, reconciliation, escape, eating, drugs, alcohol, ashamed, defensive, etc. That's 74 -- if I've counted correctly.

Give your character one or more of these traits, put them in a situation for which this trait is a hindrance and see how they react. As I said, this is just a starting point – to create a character with traits that make them interesting.

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