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Larry Brooks Character Checklist

This checklist has been excerpted from Larry Brooks’ eBook: The Three Dimensions of Character. For every character (and especially your protagonist and antagonist), you should know:

  • What is your character’s backstory, the experiences that programmed how they think, feel and act today?
  • What is his/her inner demon, and how does it influence decisions and actions in the face of the outer demon I’m about to throw at him/her?
  • What does he/she resent?
  • How does he/she feel about his/herself and what is the gap between that assessment and how others feel about him/her?
  • What is the character’s world view?
  • What is the character’s moral compass?
  • Is the character a giver or a taker in life?
  • To what extent does the character adhere to gender roles and stereotypes? And if he/she doesn’t fit cleanly into one, how is he/she different?
  • What lessons has the character not learned yet in life?
  • What lessons have he/she experienced, but rejected or failed to learn?
  • Who are his/her friends? Are they like-for-like, or either above or below him/her in intelligence?
  • What is the character’s social IQ? Is he/she awkward? Eager? Easy? Life of the party? Wallflower? Totally faking it?
  • What is the character’s most secret yearning?
  • What childhood dream never came true and why?
  • What is the character’s religious or spiritual belief system?
  • What is the worst thing the character has ever done?
  • Does the character have secrets? Perhaps a secret life?
  • What does the character’s life partner, closest friends and even employer not know about him/her?
  • When, how and why do they hold back, procrastinate?
  • What has held him/her back in life?
  • How many people would go to his/her funeral? Why might someone decide not to attend?
  • What is the most unlikely or contradictory aspect of the character?
  • What are the character’s first dimension quarks, habits and choices?
  • Why is he/she in evidence, what is she/he saying or/and covering for?
  • What is the backstory that leads to those choices?
  • What are the psychological scars that affect the character’s life and how does this link to backstory?
  • How strong is the character under pressure?
  • What is the character’s arc in the story? How does the character apply that learning toward becoming the catalytic force that drives the denouement of the story?

To learn more about the eBook, The Three Dimensions of Character, read a review I wrote about it.