For many literary works, especially novels, character development is quintessential. Literary characters drive the action and conflict; they create a reason for a story to exist. Mapping characters can be as simple as asking students to fill in charts that track important aspects of characters, or as complex as noting traits that categorize them as an archetype. Another great use for storyboards in character analysis is as three column notes: separate storyboards that detail a character's feelings, actions, and important dialogue in three different parts of the novel.

Our Recommended Lesson Plan

Overview of the Lesson

Grade Level: 3-12

Time: 10 Minutes for Introduction, Ongoing Throughout Reading

Because characters are crucial in almost every story and central to plot, it is helpful for students to map them out. The most important aspect of a character map is to assist students in keeping characters, traits, and motivations organized. When students misinterpret characters, they lose track of plot, and often make critical reading mistakes.


Students will be able to read, take away, and list important attributes of characters, to understand their impact on plot. They will also be able to infer and predict what a character might do, based on his/her personality.


Although this lesson can be used for many grade levels, below are the Common Core State Standards for Grades 9-12. See your Common Core State Standards for the correct grade-appropriate strands.

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
  • ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4: Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task
  • ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.5: Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest

Character Map Essential Questions

  1. How do characters drive a plot?
  2. Why is it important to know a character's traits and motivations?
  3. How can confusing characters be avoided?

Before Reading

Before reading, it is good to introduce your students to a list of characters. This is especially helpful for novels or plays with multiple groups of characters and plot twists. Give students the character map worksheet you wish them to complete before reading, so students can familiarize themselves with character names and be watching for them as they read.

During Reading

While reading, students should track the characters and fill in information about them. A great way to do this is to stop after each act or chapter, and ask them to fill in the new information they learned. If students run out of room on a printed worksheet, they can continue in their notebooks or on the back of the paper.

After Reading

After reading, have students compare the completed storyboards with a classmate, recording any information they may have missed. This makes for an excellent study guide, and you could have students complete a writing assignment based on character analysis!

Anticipated Student Preconceptions/Misconceptions

When filling out character motivations or attributes, students may need a refresher on how to analyze a character. Not all information about a character will be explicitly stated by the narrator/author; some information is learned through actions and dialogue. OSCAR is a helpful strategy for direct and indirect characterization.

Suggested Modifications and Adaptations

Little to No Adaptations

All students can benefit from a character graphic organizer, but not all will need one with information already completed for them. A great option for those students is the blank character map template. This encourages the students to use their critical thinking skills to determine independently which information they feel is relevant. The students can also choose their own character or draw one by hand on a printed storyboard. This process incorporates a multisensory approach without having to do extra planning. Of course if beneficial to the students, this adaptation can be made in any of the other levels as well.

Mild Adaptations

Some students will need a little bit more information and prompting when it comes to their character map. This may include already having a character representation and specific prompts of what information they need to know about the character. The Maniac Magee storyboard is an excellent example of this. It already has all the main characters with specific prompts relevant for each one. The student is able to see the names of each one and see what they needed to find out about each individual character. By being slightly more explicit, the students are not focusing on irrelevant information or losing focus on the main points. If valuable to the students or lesson, the teacher can easily remove the characters on the storyboard for the students to create their own.

Moderate Accommodations

There will frequently be at least one student who struggles with reading to the point where comprehension is difficult without some type of intervention or strategy. Storyboarding is an excellent tool to do this effectively without changing the format of the character map as a whole. These students typically benefit from more explicit instruction and in this case it may include examples of what should be included on their character map, similar to the first cell on the Of Mice and Men character map. To take it one step further, the teacher can either choose to provide more of the characters’ information and allow the student to use the storyboard as a reference guide rather than a graphic organizer. Or, the teacher can change the prompts to meet the students’ abilities.

Add a Presentation

Have students attach their storyboard to a paper requiring in-depth explanation of an element throughout the novel, or couple this assignment with a presentation. See our article on how to present a storyboard.

Customize Worksheets!

If you're looking for another step or an alternative assignment, you can create character printables to use in your class! These worksheets can be customized and printed out for students to fill out with a pencil, or they can be completed in the Storyboard Creator like a digital worksheet. You can even create multiple versions for those students who might need a little extra help, and keep them on hand for future use! Find plenty of templates to work from or just start with a blank canvas.

Character Map Templates

Related Activities

Check out these character map activities from our guides on Rules, Wonder, and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

How to Use Character Map Worksheets for Effective Character Analysis

1 Introduce Characters (Before Reading)

Provide students with a list of characters and the character map worksheet to familiarize themselves with the names and traits of the characters they will encounter in the literary work.

2 Track and Fill In Information (During Reading)

Instruct students to track the characters while reading and fill in the character map with important information about each character. Encourage them to update the map after each act or chapter.

3 Compare and Review (After Reading)

Have students compare their completed character maps with a classmate, noting any missed information. This serves as a study guide and can be used for a writing assignment based on character analysis.

4 Address Preconceptions/Misconceptions

Remind students how to analyze characters and that not all character information is explicitly stated. Teach the OSCAR strategy (Objective, Speech, Thoughts, Actions, Reactions) for analyzing character traits.

5 Step 5: Adaptations (Optional)

Consider adapting the worksheet based on student needs, such as providing blank templates for independent thinking or modifying prompts for different abilities.

6 Enhance Presentations and Customization (Optional)

Encourage students to use their completed character maps for presentations or attach them to papers requiring in-depth character analysis. Customize worksheets using the Storyboard Creator for added variety and personalization.

Frequently Asked Questions about Character Map: Lesson Plans and Templates

What is a character map?

A character map is a tool used to track and analyze the development of characters in a literary work. It can be a chart, worksheet, or storyboard that records important information about each character's traits, actions, and dialogue.

Why is character development important in literature?

Character development is essential to creating a compelling story. Characters drive the plot and conflict, and their motivations and actions create a reason for the story to exist. Understanding a character's traits and motivations is crucial to fully comprehend and analyze a literary work.

What are some examples of character map templates?

Character map templates can include charts, graphic organizers, and storyboards. Charts might include columns for character names, physical descriptions, personality traits, and important quotes. Graphic organizers might include bubbles or webs connected by lines representing character relationships. Storyboards might include a series of cells with images and captions depicting a character's actions, thoughts, and dialogue throughout a novel.

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