Author Stuff · Writing Tips

How to Create a Character Profile

Anyone who is serious about writing a story, especially one with a lot of characters, should know what a character profile is – and use them. Take my fantasy series, for example, there are over 160 main-ish characters throughout the 4 books. Yes, that many! In order to keep up, and know each of them well, characters profiles go a long way. Plus, if you spend some time away from a character, it helps you to remember the fundamentals about them.

So, how do we create one? You can google search it, and you shall find plenty of templates. It’s a really simple thing to do. Here are a few things I suggest you include in yours and some tips for doing it well.

  • Name – because duh…but don’t just pick any crap name! Remember a name can make or break a person. A reader likes a name they can pronounce or at least like a little. Give your heroine a powerful name or maybe a delicate name for her if she’s sweet and kind. Something that reflects who they are.
  • Age & Ethnicity – Ethnicity isn’t as important but it can help some people to see what you see. I’ve had characters that I imaged as dark skinned and so I said they were because I wanted my audience to see what I see. However, it can be cool to allow your reader’s minds to fill in the blanks that you leave. Give them an age, though, their dialogue and life experiences are a reflection of their age.
  • Relationships – Mother, Father, Siblings, Friends, Colleagues, Enemies, etc. Do they get along? How do they interact? How did they meet?
  • Occupation – If they work, where? Why? Do they like it? How much do they make? You can’t have them work as a coffee barista but have them driving a Bentley. It needs to line up!
  • Likes & Dislikes – Even if the things on this list never make it into the story, it’s good to know as the writer. It will help your characters have substance. Everyone has likes and dislikes. Liking pasta, hating feet – that kind of thing. It helps them interact and bond with other characters, too.
  • Place in the Plot – What’s their purpose? How do they move the story forwards, or hinder it? Why are they necessary in the first place?
  • Personality Traits – Are they kind? Curious? Hateful? Charismatic? Energetic? Silly? Competitive? Reserved?
  • Powers/Abilities or Personal Strengths – Every person has strengths and weaknesses, so you should know these about your characters. What are their flaws and how does it impact the story? Where do they find their strengths? Then, if it’s fantasy, consider what powers they may have, too, and why.
  • Speech, appearance, and actions – How do they talk? It’s hard to make every character different because not everyone speaks completely different but it’s good to know who’s talking without a name tag. Also, what does their face look like? Nose, eyes, hair? It’s not crucial, but good to know if it’s important to you and how you see them. And their actions, how do they move? Are the quite reserved in their body language or brave and self-assured? Walk tall or hang back? Can really add to their characters to explore this.
  • Extras – A few things to consider but aren’t 100% necessary but could help with the full image of who they are as a character: height, weight, quirks (weird things only they do), clothing style, body details (tattoos, scars, spots, freckles, etc.)

Just bear in mind that your characters are just characters, they are people. They have lives – past and present, and want a future yet to be determined. They need a reason for making the choices they do throughout the story. They need a reason for hating Kate next door. You can’t have them doing one thing then completely doing another that would be what the reader considers “out of character”. A kind, innocent girl wouldn’t then kill someone without hesitation a chapter later. Make it all make sense! Think, who are they? Why are they doing this? Would they really do this, or am I forcing them to?

Good luck.

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