Character Profiles

Hello, Write Owls! Welcome to Day 9 of Storytelling 101. Today we’re talking about character profiles.

When you’re developing your characters, particularly your protagonist and antagonist, you may find it helpful to make a character profile for them. A character profile is a document (handwritten, typed, etc.) that contains information about your character. It can include things as basic as their name and physical appearance and get as complicated as the formative events of their childhood. You can delve into their preferred outfit, their hobbies, their relationships with their family, and their personalities. Are they pessimistic or optimistic? How do they cope with grief? Anger? Joy?

You can find character profile templates all over the internet. Pick and choose the information that’s going to be the most useful for you. I personally believe the most important piece of information you can include about your characters is their motivations. What do they want? Why do they want it? How far are they willing to go to get it? I also think mannerisms are important. What quirks and oddities set them apart from other characters? Is there a backstory to this behavior? These are really helpful for distinguishing side characters from one another. Also, make sure your characters are flawed. No one is perfect, and readers won’t believe your character(s) if they’re perfect.

Brandon Sanderson suggests considering where they sit on these three scales: Likeability, Proactivity, and Competence. Likeability is what allows readers to empathize with the character. Proactivity is linked to a character’s motivations. Are they actively working toward a goal of some sort? Competence is the growth/progress a character attains. Are they better at something they weren’t good at before? Consider using these traits in your profile (Sanderson).

Another way you can get to know your characters without filling out a profile is to write an interview with them. This will help you delve deeper into their character voice. Ask them questions and see how they respond. Write a narrative from their perspective. Write a stream of consciousness for them.

Character profiles are a helpful way for you to get to know your characters better. Understanding them will help you write your story. If you have any questions about these topics, please leave them in the comments; and I’ll try to answer them either as a reply or in my Q&A on Saturday.

Discussion Questions:

Feel free to answer these in the comments if you want to chime in!

1) Have you ever written a character profile before? If so, did it help you?

2) What information do you think is important to include in a character profile?

Works Cited

Sanderson, Brandon. “Lecture 9: Characters – Brandon Sanderson on Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy.” YouTube, uploaded by Brandon Sanderson, 17 April 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NCiuI6F5O0

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