Friday, 1 March 2013

A Life Before Books - Character Profiles

I've included a document I find very useful: a "character profile." It can be tailored in any way you wish.

All characters within a book had a life before they appeared on a printed page and although some of the detail on their profile may not be directly applicable to what they do within the book, their basic details and notable life events shaped their personalities, attitudes and ambitions.

At first, I used profiles to keep tag of basic details, because sometimes a character appears briefly and then has a greater part in a story later on. But, they help me when planning how all the characters interact and they serve a purpose that doesn't become apparent until a few have been completed.

I put flesh on their bones and find I'm able to get into their mindset, useful if I write a scene later and then become unsure of how a character would act - I look back at their profile and it's easier to get back into their mindset.

They can also prompt a twist or another dimension to a planned story plot. A random thought while completing details can lead to greater things. Sometimes I'm reminded of an irritating habit or a catchphrase used by an old acquaintance or loved one and that part of them adds a dimension to the character.

Do not underestimate the value of spending the time to become a profiler.

Character profile - writing tool