Character profiling- our tips on how to create characters you care about

Character profiling- our tips on how to create characters you care about

Why is it important to care about your characters? Well when you are in no man’s land between planning your story idea and actually writing your story, it’s your characters that will keep you company and stop you from going crazy.

Your characters need to inspire, challenge, anger, excite and jump off the page at you. They will inspire you to keep writing and keep fighting towards their needs and wants. Here are some helpful starting points to get you thinking about your characters-

  1. Let your imagination run away with you. The more characters the better, they may not all end up in your script, you may pick and choose different elements from characters and morph them into one, but don’t limit your imagination this early on.
  2. REALLY get to know your character. DETAILS! The quirks, mannerisms, thought processes, reactions and actions, family history, as much as you can about your character. Perhaps create a mind map to brainstorm all areas of their personality and social circles. What is their work life? What is their dream job? What is their financial situation? When did they first have sex? Who is their best friend?
  3. Motivation- not just yours, THEIRS! You need to know your primary character’s motivation, what is the one thing they want most in the world?
  4. Conflict. What is stopping them from achieving their dreams? P.s There needs to be some conflict, nobody cares about perfect characters because perfect people don’t exist!

Done it? GREAT! Now some practical tips to bring those characters to life-

  1. Write down your favourite character from a play, novel, film, poem… What are they like? What are their flaws? Why do you care about them?
  2. Think about the biggest Drama queen in your life, write about their characteristics, both physical and behavioural that make this person fascinating or irritating. Invent a backstory that explains why they behave like this, do this for as many people as you can.

Profiling! Create a CV for your primary characters-

NAME

NICKNAME

AGE

DATE OF BIRTH

GENDER

RACE/ETHNICITY

RELIGION

SEXUALITY

POLITICAL VIEWS

LOCATION

JOB

EDUCATION

HOBBIES & INTERESTS

DISPOSITION & PERSONALITY

WEAKNESSES/FAULTS

GUILTY PLEASURES

PET PEEVES

FEARS

DREAMS

PRIZED POSSESSIONS

BAD HABITS

SECRET TALENTS

PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT

DIALOGUE/INTERACTIONS

CLOTHING/APPEARANCE/BUILD

MILESTONES

Fill this in for as many characters as you can, going into as much detail as possible.

Other tips-

Create a family tree

Create a character collage, newspaper, magazine cuttings and drawings that evokes your character in some way- loves, hates, desires, fears

Create a character life line, noting major milestones or memories

Family dynamics- What has their childhood been like? How has this shaped who they are? What do they lack?
Character conversation- Write a short monologue in the first person of your main character, helping to establish their voice. Perhaps they are having a rant about an election result, perhaps they are about to walk down the aisle, perhaps they are about to have a baby

Motivation- Write down a list of their wants and needs

 

 

 

We hope you found some of these tips helpful in creating your story! Stay tuned for next week’s article where we will be looking at Building your PLOT!

 

Ref Ready Set Novel by Chris Baty, Lindsay Grant, Tavia Stewart-Streit from National Novel Writing Month
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