There are lots of character development worksheets out there, but in my opinion nothing that really examines a character’s growth and development, which is what I’m aiming to do with mine. You can use this to better understand your character, spot “holes” in their development, or to build a character from scratch!
- What is this character’s lineage?
- Are there any genetic factors that may affect them? (Mental illness/disabilities that run in the family, magical lineage, etc.?)
- What is/was their parents’ social class?
- What are their parents/caregivers like prior to their being born?
- If not raised by their parents, then by whom? Are their caretakers of a different social class than the character? How are they treated as a result?
- In the case of non-human characters, what is the status of their “kind” prior to their birth/construction/etc.? (E.g., are they the first generation of a new AI? Are they the first generation of vampires to live in the light?)
- Are there changing social values between prior generations and their own that may affect them?
Circumstances at Birth
- What is their parental status at birth? (Single mother, both parents, etc.)
- What social class is your character born into?
- What is expected of your character based on the social class that they are born into? By their parents/caregivers? By the society they live in?
- How are they advantaged/disadvantaged at birth? Disability? Poverty? Etc.
- Are there any circumstances surrounding their birth that may affect their early childhood? (For example, they were unwanted by their parents/caregivers, they were the long-awaited heir to a kingdom, or they were born (assigned as) a girl when the parents were hoping for a boy?)
- If they lose a parent/are orphaned/adopted/parents divorce, etc., at what age does this happen? a.) How does the age at which this happened affect them? Do they remember this change? Are they affected by the change?
- Does their social status/class change at any point during childhood? Why?
- What is their relationship with their parents/caregivers like? How do these interactions affect them in later life? (For example, a perfectionist character may have only received approval from their parents for big achievements.)
- Do they have siblings or other close relationships with family members of a similar age? (Do bear in mind that early relationships with siblings can play a strong role in the way that people approach friendships in later years.)
- If they have siblings, what is their birth order, and how does this affect them?
- What are some of the most impactful moments from their childhood? How do these moments affect them? What do they learn from these experiences? (E.g., “authority figures aren’t to be trusted).
- Was their childhood a happy one? If not, how do they see their childhood as an adult? Does this make them angry, do they try to ignore it, or have they moved on?
- What are their typical social interactions like as children? Do they have a lot of friends, are they shy, etc.?
- Do they exhibit expected behaviors or have difficulty conforming? (Conforming to gender roles or not, for example.)
- What are their primary interests as a child?
- Is there a turning point that moves your characters from childhood and into a more “mature” perspective? (For example, the death of a loved one.)
- Does their social status/class change at any point during adolescence? Why?
- How does their relationship with their parents develop from childhood to adolescence?
- Do any major changes occur in their life during adolescence? How do these changes affect them?
- In the case of MOGAI characters, at what point does your character realize they are “different” than the expected social norm? What are the circumstances surrounding that?
- What is your character’s attitude toward sex and sexuality? How does their interaction with their parents/caregivers affect them?
- How much independence is your character granted as an adolescent?
- Does your character have more/less responsibility than the typical adolescent? In what ways? (For example, having to take care of a younger sibling.
- How does their social life change (or not change) from childhood to adolescence?
- How are they prepared for adulthood as an adolescent?
- When in their society are they expected to become an “adult”?
- How do their interests evolve from childhood to adolescence?
- Is there a defining moment that transitions them from adolescence into adulthood? (Joining the military, moving out, etc.)
- What is their primary attitude towards life based on their experiences in childhood and adolescence?
- What kinds of events would be necessary to change these attitudes?
- Does their social status/class change as they reach adulthood, or at any point after? Why?
- Are they generally independent as an adult? Why/why not?
- Do they retain their relationship with their family on reaching adulthood?
- Do they retain their social group from adolescence?
- How/where do they meet new friends/love interests?
- What is their attitude toward romance/love/family? What are their main goals regarding this as they enter adulthood?
- What is their main goal as an adult? (A high-paying career, romance, family, to have fun, to survive, etc.)
- How do their goals change over time? As they meet old goals and set new ones?
- How do their interests mature from adolescence to adulthood? (For example, an interest in writing as a teen may lead them to a career in publishing.)
- Do they accomplish their goals as set out in earlier adulthood? How do they feel if these goals are not met?
- As they approach older age, what is their social class?
- Do they build a family in their adulthood? What is this family like?
- If they become a parent, how is their relationship with their children affected by the relationship they had with their own parents?
- What do they want to “leave behind” in the world?
- Do they become a mentor/teacher to others?
- As they grow older, how do they feel about the concepts of aging? Weakening? Death?
Think outside the box as you answer these. Remember that if you bend and stretch them enough, these questions can fit into virtually any world.