Character Checklist


Character Checklist

See also: 15 Days to a Stronger Character

Latest post on Characters: 3 Types of Character Arcs: Choosing the Best for your Novel


  1. Name or Nickname: Does the character’s name evoke something about him or her? Does it resonate in the story?
  2. Character Roles and Jobs. Have you fully explored the possibilities of family and community roles? Are they working at cliche jobs or fascinating jobs?


  4. Inner Character. How’s your characters’ intelligence, intuition, curiosity, honesty and spirituality?
  5. Character Desires Answer the all-important question: What does s/he want?
  6. Characters Flaws and Paradoxes. Perfect characters are boring: mix it up!
  7. This I Believe . Write an essay in the character’s voice about what s/he believes.
  8. Why? Character motivation. Characters don’t act randomly. Why is your character doing this right now?
  9. Characters’ Backstory Interesting characters have back story. What’s your character hiding

  10. Explore your character’s backstory, life and emotions more fully in this book.

    Or if you’re at the start of a novel, refine the emotional arc with this book.StartYourNovel300x200


  11. Character Descriptions. Bland descriptions are out. Go for memorable.
  12. Setting Details that Reveal Character. OK – what kind of junk does this character have it his/her house or apartment?
  13. Body Language. 55% of communication is body language. Get him or her moving to help communication.
  14. Characters’ Voices Voices can enhance our image of a character.
  15. Likeable, Sympathetic Characters. Is this a character I want to spend time with? Do I care what happens to him/her?
  16. Consistent Characters . Have you given the same reader (with all his/her complexity) page after page?

  18. Villains Don’t Always Wear Black
  19. Supporting Characters. Who is walking around with your main character?
  20. Sports Novels. Are your characters cliche jocks? Why?

Do you find this list helpful? See other posts on Character below.

  • Charlotte Rains Dixon
    February 16, 2010

    This is a great checklist. I’ve used variations on this character dossier for my characters and find it very helpful. But I’m going to apply some of what you have here, too!

  • Dan
    March 30, 2010

    thanks for making this. I got some characters that are floating in development right now and this helped immensely in organizing my thoughts.

  • Chantal Kirkland
    April 5, 2010

    Wow. Great post. I appreciate the way you’ve dissected the characters based on the way they fit into the story. This is an ingenious tool!

  • Beth Morrow
    February 7, 2011

    Hi Darcy.
    Neat post. Really like the complexity. It’s one of my favorites from Twitter this week & I’ll be sharing a link on my blog tomorrow. Thanks for sharing!