Friday, November 14, 2014

Character Profiles

This post is dedicated to character profiles!

Whenever I start any writing, I always have a main character in mind. I know what kind of person I want them to be, sometimes I know exactly what I want them to look like. But then I get into love interests, best friends, distant family members and I tend to forget little  bits of information.

Does she have blue eyes or green? Did I mention his mother was dead or did I just say she was abroad? Questions like these are just examples of what happens when I don't profile them.

Today I'm going to share a couple of templates I use when making characters. Some I use more often than others, some I've grown out of using but think they're a great start to building your own.

1. The "Quick and Dirty"

This profile is just that. It's short and it's meant to just get down the really big details. I usually start on something like this and expand on it. I hardly use this anymore because I'm more into details about characters, but it's a great for beginners I think.

Name: Usually just the first name, sometimes the last name.
Gender: Always important
Age: Not as important but I feel like it helps in their development and how they are supposed to act as a character
Species:I usually use this when doing a Fantasy/Sci-Fi writing
Appearance: Just what the character looks like. I usually have eye color, hair color, short or tall.
Other: Anything I have to remember about the character I write here. Like if she's the protagonist, or the relationship to the protagonist. Sometimes this will have what class year they are if it's at a school.

2. You Got To Dig A Little Deeper

This is for adding just a couple more details than the first profile has.

Name: First and Last
Age: Always important.
Appearance: This is a lot more expanded upon than the last profile. And it's not block quoted.
                 Hair: Usually just color
               Eyes: Color, contacts or glasses
               Complexion: I usually stick with words like fair, beige, dark.
Height: I usually just came up with a number. But it works for relationships, because it reminds me that she either always has to look up or he always has to look down.
Personality: Usually a basic type of personality. Do I want them to be preppy or mysterious? That sort of thing. I've tended to move away since I always beginning with my characters having one type of personality and then end up with another extremely opposite personality.
Job: Do they have one? Usually their role in the story. Sometimes it's like leader of the pack, sometimes I just write full time student.
Life: What is their life like?

             Family: Who else is in their family? Mother, father, siblings?

3. Every Detail Matters!

This is what I tend to do now with my character profiles. I'd like to thank my friend Kenz for helping me come up with it.
Name: First Last
Gender: F/M
Age:
      » Birthday: Month, Date, Year
Residency: City,State/City, Country
Appearance:  For this, I've started using pictures of kind of who I'm basing them off.
Description: The exception here are paragraphs. This can include details like height, characteristics of speaking voice, and other similar things not evident from a picture. Even when using a picture, be sure to describe evident traits (ex. hair color, eye color), because the picture is just kind of the foundation.  

Here's an example of how I use this:

"Raja seems to be like an average Indian-American upon first glance. Standing at five feet and five inches, light brown skin and straight brown hair, no one would think there was anything more to her. But upon closer examination, one would notice Raja's gray-slate colored eyes, with hints of dark blue. They would notice the natural red highlights in her hair, and a small scar on the side of her forehead from her childhood, not to mention the nose stud. In Sanskrit, Raja means king, but in Arabic it means hope, which is what Raja was to her parents. They planned the best life for her, with their hopes and dreams. Raja is much like the fluidity of the liquids and time she controls. She tends to go along with other's plans, much like the plan her parents' had for her; as long as the plan doesn't go against her own beliefs. Yet Raja decided to start forging her own path when she graduated from high school and became more independent. She enjoys learning about the past, knowing well how it can come to repeat itself in the future. Usually a patient person, Raja does have her breaking point, and when it breaks, her temper is fierce. Like how excessive rain can cause destructive floods, and rushing rivers create their own paths, Raja's temper is something to be feared, for it was upon accident that she discovered the fluidity of a person's blood. Though she doesn't actively practice Hinduism, Raja does live by the beliefs of her religion, such as karma."

Background: Also known as the backstory portion of the profile. Who was she before the story began. What's the dark secret he is hiding?
Family:
     » Family Member Name- relation to character, age
    Repeat as needed.
Other: What other things do I need to know about the character? Did they go to school? What college did they go to? What are they currently doing? This is information that doesn't really have a place somewhere else in the profile.

Here's an example:

"Raja's parents contemplated arranging her marriage, but in the end they decided against it for reasons unknown to her. She graduated from Yale University in Hartford, Connecticut with a double major in European history and physics. Raja is fluent in Hindi, and proficient in traditional Indian/Hindu dance."

4. I Don't Have A Clever Title For This One

Not one profile can be used for all stories. Sometimes you just have to improvise. This profile a perfect. I used it for a story where basically the entire family was important to the story. They were each narrators to sections, so in a way they were each protagonists.

First I had the basics in a table format:


Name
D.O.B.
Age during story
College
Major/After College
First, Middle, Last
Month, Date, Year
Number
Name, BA, MA, PhD, etc.
Major, current job


 
Hair Color
Eye Color
Build
Height
Other
First Name
Color
Color
Muscular/Lean/Skin
#'#"
 scars, moles, etc.

And then I get into their relationships, and their futures. So like what kids they were going to have, etc.

Main Character, First Last = Spouse's name First and Maiden name
     -Child First, Middle, Last name -> For multiple children it's ordered oldest to youngest.

And I did that for all the "main" characters.

Then I did a birth order list of all their children, with the first name being the oldest and having a number zero, then all the rest having a number of age difference.

Example:
Jason & Connor- 0
Sebastian- 1.5
William-Lucille-Matthew- 2
Bridget- 3
Raja- 4
Emily- 5
Jones- 6
Gordon twins-6
There's probably a sheet of paper roaming around that says what each of their children look like, but I won't add the amount already on this post.

So that's it. Those of the types of profiles I use when creating my characters!

What kind of profile do you use?

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