Character Trees (2015) RocketJump Film School
The following description prompts, starting from the feet up, could be a useful way for us to build a picture of our characters. The exercise is meant to help you figure out the psychology of your character which will impact what decisions the character makes within the story. The example below is from Video Game Highschool.
The following is FILM CRIT HULK’s outline of each part of the tree:
• FEET – [PHENOTYPE] Wholly palpable details to draw on, like physical details and facts.
o What does this person look like?
o Where did they live?
o Where do they go to school?
o Do they have tattoos? Why?
o Who is their best friend?
o What is their occupation?
• GROIN – [WANT] The groin covers all of the things about the character that are born out of impulse and desire.
o What does this person want?
o How does their sexuality manifest itself?
o What about them is base and puerile? Greed? Approval? Esteem?
Gluttony? You can basically run toward their approach to the seven deadly sins.
• HEART [NEEDS] –The heart is essentially all the things they secretly need in their life to make them a better, more functional person.
o What does this person need?
o What will make them a more functional person?
o Do they need to find self-confidence?
o Do they need to find their humility?
o Do they need to provide for their family?
• THROAT – [VOICE] The throat is basically their posture, attempt and presentation, and affectation.
o How does this person sound?
o Not just the literal voice, but how does this person project themselves?
o How do they try to come off to other people?
o How do they actually come off to other people?
• LEFT CHEEK [LOGICAL CAPACITY] –Basically, the left cheek is their methodology, exposing the “left-brained” abilities.
o What is their intelligence?
o How does it manifest itself? What is their practicality?
o How do they solve problems?
• RIGHT CHEEK [ARTISTIC CAPACITY] –The right cheek is their ethics and soul and exposes their “right-brained” abilities
o What is their idealistic/artistic capacity?
o What is their un-practicality?
o What is their spirituality?
• CROWN [THE FULL PSYCHE] – Who is this character?
o Piece the body parts together to see how they work as actual psychology.
o What are their defining memories?
o What is their pathology? How will the behave? How would this person overcome things to behave a different way?