Recently, I’ve really been struggling with finding my protagonist’s motivation and core need, two vital ingredients for likable, believable characters. I think that to find this, you must look at the character’s whole personality. Today, I tried a new approach for character development that worked very well: mind mapping. I use a free software called XMind. This created a picture of my protagonist’s complete personality: strengths, weaknesses, fears. To start, I put his name in the center. Then, I made a main topic for each of his personality traits. Then, I created subtopics off of the main topics. These are examples of the personality trait or how it affects their life.
Main topic: strong
Subtopics: he likes to exercise, he’s a good leader, he’s calm under pressure.
Click to see my protagonist’s mindmap
I learned two things today. First, find your character’s motivation and core need before you figure out the rest of their personality, and second, use a mind map and a character development worksheet. This forces you to think about your character in two different ways, it uses different parts of your brain.