Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Character Profiles

No, this isn't the story from the promt. I'm still working on that. School's been pretty crazy and teachers have been loading me down with homework, leaving no time for writing. But the semester is coming to a close (YAY!) and once finals are over, I'll hopefully have a lot more time to work on it. In the meantime, I decided to post about something that's been on my mind. Character profiles.

I've been reading a lot about the importance of writing character profiles. This is never something I've been inclined to do, and in fact, I never have done it. I always just come up with a story idea and roll with it, hoping my characters develop and become likable. But from what I understand, character profiles help with keeping a character's actions and beliefs consistent. And they're handy when you forget some information that you've previously written about a character. For instance, their age or hair color. So instead of having to scroll, or flip, through the pages of your story to find the info, character profiles make it easy to find. Now, I've been writing this modern western/love story thing and have some characters with complicated pasts and somewhat complex personalities. Also, I don't get the chance to work on it that often. The combination of these two things made me realize that I might not be giving my characters very consistent personalities. Every time I feel like working on the story again, I forget certain aspects about their pasts or appearance and have to search the chapters to find what I am looking for. I also think that I've been subtly changing the character's personalities throughout the chapters. So, for the sake of consistent writing, I decided to start some character profiles. Only, now I have a dilemma. I don't know what information, exactly, to include. I mean, appearance and age are obviously important. But how much of their personality should I include in the profile? Should I write their likes and interests? Their dislikes and phobias? I'm probably over thinking this, but I want some second or third opinions. What information do you include in your character profiles? Do you even write character profiles? And if you don't, how do you keep their actions and personalities consistent?



  1. You have done profiles once with me, remember? Anywho, this is usually how I do them:


    So I think that you definitely need to include phobias (if they are major). I don't usually include dislikes, unless it is part of their personality (EX: dislikes when people call them a certain nickname). I think that writing down their interests could be a good idea so that you have an outline to expand on.

    Overall I think that writing a Character Profile isn't permanent. Characters develop and so things may need to change, and the profile is simply an outline to remember things by. :)

  2. I write character profiles. I find it helps me get to know them better. Also if I find the character is changing in the story and it's different from the profile, I let them change. It's better for the change to be natural rather then forced.

  3. I have a blank for a character sketch I could email you if you like. Character profiles are good for keeping the common thing consistent, but I will tell you that sometimes characters will change from when you first start to write a story to later on in it. And sometimes there is just nothing you can do about that. I call them "Renegade Characters" (I wrote a post on my blog about that actually). But when you're dealing with characters with complicated pasts. It's always a good idea to keep a short synopsis of their backstory on file so, as you said, you don't have to always go back through your story.

  4. I sent you a character profile that I made from a couple different ones other authors suggested using. You're supposed to know way more about your character than you'd ever put in the story. :)

  5. Dr. Watson is right about that ;) A lot of suggestions say that you should have backstory for all your characters, and even if you never put half of it in your book, it really helps to form their characters. I speak from experience on this one. And, personally, I think backstories are some of the funnest things to write.

  6. Thanks for all of your help and suggestions you guys!
    Hazel- If you do feel like sending me your blank that you keep for character sketches, that would be awesome. I enjoy seeing how different writers prepare their character and what sort of info they like to keep about them.