Oct 9, 2009

Character Profiles

My last post was on Plot Building and I described the method that works for me. Just to quickly add to that, I also found watching National Geographic and the Discovery channel gave me a few good ideas and lines, such as “If you put the wrong thing in your mouth, you could die.” I now have a list of around 40 events that could happen in my story. Not in any particular order, but to draw on when I’m writing.

Now for my work on Characters. The other night I held a family workshop on NaNoWriMo as hubby and the kids are all taking on this task as well (with my coercion). We did up Character Profiles for each of our characters.

There are a lot of resources for this method, some suggest just focusing on the main characters and not so much the smaller ones. Others suggest very deep and detailed profiles. I’m going somewhere in the middle.

Step One: I did up a generic form to be filled in for each of the characters and on it I asked these questions:

Character Name:
Hair: (include texture, length and colour, dyed or natural?)
Eyes: (colour and shape)
Nose: (shape, length, width)
Mouth: (colour, size, fullness)
Cheeks: (chubby, shallow, high?)
Ears: (stick out, small, pointed?)
Skin: (colour, marks, freckles, scars, wrinkles)
Clothing size:
Hands: (large, small, long nails?)
Religious beliefs:
Attitude to technology:
Clothing style:

Click HERE to open a printable profile PDF form. (prints better if you click 'download' and then 'open' - it can print without url at top. 
I’ve seen a lot more in-depth profiles, but I want mine to be simple. If you want more questions to ask your character see this blog I found. All the information for each character should be on one page. And I want room in the top right hand corner to add a picture.

Step Two:
A picture helps you to visualise your characters. If you are artistic then create a picture of each of your characters with pencils, paints, crayons, whatever medium you like to use. If not, cheat. I will be cheating. Here are my ideas for pictures.
If you are doing the human variety, search through magazines or Google images to find a picture of someone that fits your descriptions.

Sims player? Create your characters in Sims and print a snapshot of them.

Second Life is an online game you can play where you create characters – they can also be non-human. I don’t have the patience for this one, but if you do, it could be a helpful resource.

There are also many more avatar creators online that you could use.

My plan is to keep a file near the computer with all my characters, so I can easily refer back. I will probably put mine in alphabetical order of last name - you do not need to be as pedantic as me.

The workshop went well and we found out more about our characters. Some of our ideas will help to move our plot along as well.

Our next workshop will be on creating a setting for the story.

Let me know how you create your characters!


  1. It's really great that you are so organized! I map out my characters, but only in my mind. Now, I'm a little nervous about inconsistenties... I might start using some of the tools you mentioned.

    Great post!

  2. Thanks Amber, I usually do too, but then in chapter 13 I have to go back searching to find some detail - I've even changed character's names without noticing. Not this time though, not in NaNoWriMo!
    I'm even keeping a bio (albeit basic) on creatures in the story.

  3. First: Love the new site design :D And I love your method of character creation and organization. GREAT tips. I keep a rolodex of character traits :D But I need to reorganize it. Mostly I have been drawing digital portraits of my characters. I can get a lot from a photo of a character, 'feel' them I suppose. Great post!