Skip the Outline-Get to the Character

Are you having a hard time developing your novel’s characters? Everyone has this problem; that’s why millions of character outlines are out there. But sometimes outlines just don’t cut it. (Although, if you are looking for a great outline, check out Inky Teapot’s Character Outline).

When it comes to novels, round characters are necessary no matter what role they play. However, outlines can sometimes be more of a distractor when it comes down to knowing your character. Here is an easy 5 minute exercise that can help you in the writing process:

The Two Columns

First, make two columns: One for good qualities and one for bad qualities:


Now start filling it out. Does your character pick his nose? Is he a gentleman? Does she have trust issues? Does she have a soft spot for children?

Go ahead and write down all the good/bad qualities or traits of your character. Try to think of qualities that you have or notice about others around you.

TIP: Your character should have more bad qualities than good to begin with. Think about it, no one’s perfect. Believe me, readers want to relate to your character and they can’t do that unless you give your characters imperfect qualities.


Over the course of your story, your character will develop more and more good qualities, and by the end of the book, the tables will have turned. Your character will have more good traits than bad traits! This shows growth and development in your character; which is something that many authors strive for.

This exercise shouldn’t take long, but by the time you finish you will have a general idea of who your character is.

I suggest that you keep this two column trick by you when you write so you can incorporate your character’s traits into your writing. Not only will it keep you thinking about your character but it will also help you to keep your character in check of his or her personality.

Before long, you will be able to see you character clearly.

Hope this helps!

-Charlotte Emelia



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