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Characters are an essential part of any story. Even in stories that don’t have people, animals, places, and inanimate objects can become characters in their own right. Characters drive plot forward and help to create and resolve conflicts. They are the main reason a story exists. However, as a story is told, characters often change or evolve with the plot. Whether being hit by forces outside their control or due to figurative internal battles, many of a character's attributes are a result of the events that occur.

For students, it is important to track the evolution of a character so that they can fully understand what effects and influences can change a person. Using the character development lesson plan below, engage your students with a character map for character evolution!

Recommended Character Development Lesson Plan

Overview of the Lesson

Because characters play a crucial role in stories and are central to the plot, it is helpful for students track their changes. The most important aspect is for students is to understand why and how the character is affected over the course of the work.

Grade Level: 3-12


Although this lesson can be used for multiple grade levels, below are examples of the Common Core Standards for Grades 9-10. Please see the Common Core Standards for correct grade-appropriate standards.

  • 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

Lesson-Specific Essential Questions

  1. How do characters drive plot?
  2. Why is it important to fully understand characters and how they develop?
  3. How do we do a character analysis?
  4. How can we make predictions about a person based on their traits?


Students will be able to read, take away, and explain how characters evolve throughout a novel, play, or story. They will understand how a character's actions affect plot and how to infer and predict what a character might do based on their personality.

Instructional Materials/Resources/Tools

Character Evolution Worksheet and Access to Storyboard That

Before Reading

Before reading, it is a great idea to introduce your students to a list of characters. This is especially helpful for novel or play with multiple characters and/or plot twists.

  • Give students the appropriate character evolution worksheet for them to complete.

During Reading

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

After Reading

After reading, have students compare the completed worksheets with a classmate, recording any information they may have missed. This makes for an excellent study guide, or ask students to complete a writing assignment based off of one of the characters.

Add a Presentation

Have students attach their storyboard to a paper that requires them to give an in-depth explanation of character development over the course of the text. Or, couple this assignment with a presentation!

Character Evolution Storyboard Templates and Examples

Related Activities

How to Track Character Development


Introduce the Characters

Before starting the reading, provide your students with a list of characters involved in the story. This step is particularly important for stories with multiple characters or complex plot twists. Familiarizing students with the characters beforehand helps them track their development effectively.


Provide Character Evolution Worksheets

Distribute the appropriate character evolution worksheet to each student. This worksheet will serve as a tool for them to record and analyze the changes and developments in the characters as they progress through the novel, play, or story.


Track Development During Reading

Instruct students to actively track character development while reading. Encourage them to fill in the worksheet with new information they learn about the characters after each act or chapter. If they run out of space on the worksheet, they can continue in their notebooks or on the back of the paper.


Compare and Discuss

After completing the reading, have students compare their completed worksheets with a classmate. This activity helps them identify any information they might have missed and allows for collaborative learning. It can also serve as a study guide for future assessments or discussions.


Writing Assignment or Presentation

As a follow-up activity, ask students to either write an assignment based on one of the characters, delving deeper into their development or attach their storyboard to a paper that requires them to give an in-depth explanation of character development over the course of the text. Alternatively, you can encourage students to present their findings and analysis in the form of a presentation, incorporating digital media elements to enhance understanding and add interest.

Frequently Asked Questions about Character Development and Analysis

What is character development in a story?

Character development in a story refers to the process of how a character changes or evolves over the course of the narrative. It can be influenced by external events or internal conflicts and often affects the plot.

Why is understanding character development important?

Understanding character development is important because it helps readers to fully comprehend a story and its themes. By tracking a character's growth, readers can gain insights into human nature and empathize with the character's experiences.

How do you analyze a character in a story?

To analyze a character in a story, readers should pay attention to their actions, thoughts, and dialogue. Readers can also consider the character's relationships with other characters and how they are portrayed by the author. By examining these aspects, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the character's motivations and personality.

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