Worksheet #7 – Who
Who will appear in your story? This worksheet has two parts: identifying a cast and “who” questions to help you think about character roles. (This worksheet was created for a mystery-writing course, so the questions skew in that direction.)
Part 1 – BUILDING A CAST
Primary characters take the lead roles in the story: protagonist, antagonist, victim, investigator, love interest, major suspects. Primary characters have the most page time and are vital to the success of the mission: answering the Story Question and/or provide a crucial part of the protagonist’s personal life. Each of the primary characters in your list should be so integral to the story that it falls apart without their participation.
Secondary characters provide backup. They contribute in a material way to the overall plot or protagonist’s life—family, friends, exes, colleagues, coroner, suspects, dispatcher, town bartender who knows all secrets, PI hired for special duty, witnesses, victim’s family, etc. In a series, a secondary character may be important in a single installment but does not appear again because his work, while important in this story, is over when this Story Question is answered.
Minor characters perform small but necessary functions in the story. They may have one important job in one important scene, or they may provide a texture to the story. In movie terms, minor characters are the extras—EMTs/doctors/nurses who treat victims, minor witnesses, nosy neighbor, babysitter, patrol officer or first responder, young nieces & nephews. These characters may do only one job in the story, but the job needs to be done. Otherwise, why is this character in the story?
Who are the primary characters in your story?
Who are the secondary characters in your story?
Who are the minor characters in your story?
For a series: Who are the recurring characters in your series?
Part 2 – WHO QUESTIONS
- Whose story is this? (Main Character)
- Who tells the story? (Narrator)
- Who drives the action of the story?
- Who is the primary antagonist?
- Who is the primary protagonist?
- Who is the sleuth, the victim, law enforcement? (For a mystery)
- Who are allies (secondary protagonists)?
- Who are foes (secondary antagonists)?
- Who is a romantic interest, past or present?
- Who are exes – lovers, bosses, spouses, friends?
- Who is in the MC’s family?
- Who is in the suspect pool, persons of interest? (For a mystery)
- Who do police believe is guilty? Who does the sleuth believe is guilty?(For a mystery)
- Who looks/acts/seems guilty but is not? (For a mystery)
- Who provides comic relief or humor?
- Who is a confidante?
- Who is a partner, sidekick, best friend, helper, assistant, tagalong?
- Who represents the community or society?
- Who is putting pressure on the police to solve the crime? (For a mystery)
- Who represents good? Who represents evil?
- What brings calm or order? Who brings chaos or disorder?
- Who challenges the MC, internally and externally?
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