Speculative Characteristics

If you write, you’ve probably worked through at least one character worksheet. And if not, give it a try sometime. And if you review books, you probably think about how we writers should use these more, right?

Me? I find character worksheets hugely helpful. It’s like every time I work through one, I get more story ideas.

My normal character worksheet focuses on lots of the basic things.

  • Where the character lives
  • What their favorite food is
  • Who they live with
  • What their hobbies are
  • Do they collect anything?

Yeah, you get the idea. If you’re so motivated, you can check out the basic character worksheet I use here at my website.

Anyway, have you ever thought about the fun additions which can be made when writing speculative fiction? I’ve never added them to my worksheet, but the more I’m thinking about it, the more I think I need to. Of course, the worksheet would need to be customized depending on the project, but I’m willing to start with a template.

Here are some things I’d add:

  • What are their special powers?
  • Where do these special powers come from?
  • Are they human?
  • What planet are they from?
  • Is their best friend a different species?
  • Favorite new invention?

You know, I could have real fun with this.

So tell me, what character questions would you add for your speculative fiction story?


PJ Hoover thinks her best friend would not be human, her tortoises would be telepathic, and she’d be able to grow as big as Ginormica.

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Filed under P. J. Hoover

12 responses to “Speculative Characteristics

  1. I’ve never used a character worksheet as such — but when I’m struggling and my critique group asks me, “Okay, so what does so-and-so really want?” it gives me the idea that a back-to-basics approach like that is warranted!

    In speculative fiction I *really* would like to see people asking the question not only what are that person’s powers, but what are the LIMITS to those powers, and how payment is extracted for the use/overuse of them. Physical, mental, spiritual toll? What boosts/augments/diminishes those powers? Specific questions like that also need to come into play for worldbuilding in general.

    • Hey Tanita, I love the limitations imposed on powers. It really makes the author need to think about how the MC can defeat the antagonist. It’s so great when I see this done really well!

      And totally agree about worldbuilding! I thought that would make a nice post in itself!

  2. Parker Peevyhouse

    -Does this character’s pet talk?
    -Do her allergic reactions to food cause magical catastrophes?
    -Does she prefer posters of boy bands or unicorns?

  3. Robin La Fevers had a great post about questions to reveal character that I just loved (apr 24). It was more general, though. I think if my character has special powers, I want to know how they learned of their power, how they mastered it and is it something they wield all the time or is it a secret weapon? How does this power affect their relationships with others and how does it reveal their inner character? And that’s just the beginning…

  4. I remember Robin’s post, Sherrie! It was great! It does seem like the sheet would need to be customized for each project. There are so many things to consider!
    Thanks for visiting!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this! It gives me so much to think about before I get too far into my WIP. I love the idea of having special powers and their limitations right on the character sheet.

  6. I would add:

    What is the cost/consequence of the magic?

    I think sometimes it’s too easy to throw a magic spell in there for the charcaters to get out of trouble, so I’d be interested in reading/writing something that had a specific cost to the magic (such as energy, money, etc.) or consequence (i.e. use too much magic, you might die, etc.)

  7. P.J., I used a character sheet with my WIP, that is almost finished. I’ll do it again, with the next one, too.
    And it really brought me into my book, if you know what I mean. While writing, I became my MC Anna. There were times when I talked like her even after I had finished writing for the day. And she’s 13! But it really helped with the voice. I give all the credit to my character sheet. I knew her so well, I was her while writing. :)

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