A character profile is an indepth look at your character’s in your novel. Your character profile can be as detailed as you want it to be. It all depends on what you want to know about your character.
Why Create a Character Profile?
Creating a character profile is simply a preference. Some authors do this and authors don’t. I personally enjoy writing character profiles because it helps me connect with my characters on a deeper level. Plus, I can keep track of their characteristics and features while I write. Before I used character profiles, I would have different attributes for the same character half way through the novel, so I confused myself and made the editing phase a lot harder! To learn more about my writing journey check out THIS POST HERE!
The Character Profile I created, which you can download below is fairly basic but it covers the top 9 things you need to know about your character before you start writing.
9 Things You Need to Know About Your Character
The general appearance will help you visualize your character. So the worksheet below starts off with the basics including, eye colour, hair colour, height, complexion etc.
What is your character’s current life right now? Where do they live? What is their day to day life like? This can be a quick sketch just to know where they fit in the big picture.
What motivates your character to wake up every day? Do they have to take care of their family like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games? Are they simply trying to survive for an abusive family that hates your existence like Harry Potter?
To help you narrow down Motivations you can answer this one first. What is your character’s goal? What do they see for their life in the coming years? This is the state of mind your character is in on page one of your novel. Of course this will change by the end because your character will go on some type of journey that will make them question and grow as a human.
This is the goal your character wants to achieve at the end of your novel. This answer will be different from the beginning or your character does not have an arc. This goal could be that your character found a long lost family they didn’t know they had, so now they want to support and care for them for the foreseeable future. How about your character won the war and is classified as a war hero, where do they want to go next? A beach in Mexico, a small town in your fictional world. Get a sentence or two down with what your character’s end goal is and where they will end up. Maybe they die at the end? The options are endless!
List at least three positive traits your character has. This can be as simple as ‘intelligent, ambitious, and curious. Or you can go into detail with what that ambition looks like in your character. Are they so focused on their college career, that they miss out on their highschool experience? Are they so intelligent the CIA wants to recruit them?
Start off general and make your way into the details.
What are your character’s flaws? Is your character a serial gossip, anything she is told will come out of her mouth the next person she talks to? Is your character dishonest and will lie at every chance they get. Possessive, whiny, disloyal, irrational, lazy etc. Flaws make your character human. Flaws connect your character to your reader so don’t skip this step, really think about these flaws. And how the flaws will cause problems for your character throughout your novel.
Top Three People in there Lives
These people might not be in the story or might not make sense to your storyline but it gives you insight into who your character is. For example, if the most important people in your character’s life is their mom, sister and brother – then family is very important, if something were to happen to their family, they would do everything in their power to help them.
If you character doesn’t have anyone important to them or influential that is also telling. They are a loner, anti-social, awkward and can’t seem to make connections with people.
Other Important Details
This is a space where you can jot down any other elements to your character or storyline that you will need. For instance, my characters in my current WIP have tattoos, so I have a spot to describe the tattoo and where it is on their body and the importance of the tattoo.
3 Must-Haves When Writing Your Character Profiles
When you sit down to write your Character Profiles there a few things you can do to make it easier.
- Positive and Negative Character Traits
I like to have a list of positive and negative traits near so I can really get into what makes each character tick. This also allows for you to choose traits you might not have thought of before. Plus, this allows you to create realistic, likeable and flawed characters.
- Personality Types
The personality test created by Myers & Briggs outlines sixteen personality types and outlines characteristics for each personality. This can help you narrow down what type of person you want your character to be.
- Pinterest Inspiration Board
Pinterest is a wealth of information and you can search character inspiration for days. I use this for distinct tattoos, eye colour, hair colour, freckles and overall feel for a character. It is easier creating a character if you have an actual picture to inspire them.
Do you need a Character Profile for every Character in your Novel?
You can create as many character profiles as you want. I find that all the main characters in your novel should have at least a basic profile. If they are a major part of your story, getting to know them the best you can will make it easier to write them in the long run.
As for your minor characters, you don’t have to write a character profile. Character profiles help you flush out character motivation, desires and goals. If a minor character is in one scene you don’t need to go in depth with them but it is completely up to you.
This is your novel and your characters so do what feels right. I have a file for each character’s name and the meaning and if I have already described them in my novel, I will jot down those features and the page number I wrote on, so I am not changing the minor character’s appearance throughout my trilogy.
Interview Your Character: Ask them these 31 Questions to get to know them better.
Okay, let’s set the scene. You have just arrived at a local coffee shop ready to meet your character. You see your character sitting at a table in the corner sipping on a drink waiting for you to arrive. It is mid afternoon, you have a bag over your shoulder with your laptop inside.
You say hi as you walk by, go to the line to order your own drink and then sit down across from your character ready to interview them. You take a quick sip of your drink. Ahh, let’s begin.
Here are 31 Questions to Ask Your Character to Get to Know them Better
- What is your full name?
- Do You Like your Name?
- What does your name mean?
- When were you born?
- What is your favourite sport?
- How old are you?
- What is your favourite book?
- What is your favourite food?
- How many siblings do you have?
- Are you the youngest, middle, or oldest child in your family?
- Do you live with your parents?
- On scale of 1 – 10 how close are you to your parents? (1 being distant and 10 being best friends) Answer this for mom and dad or guardian
- Who influenced you the most growing up?
- What is one word that describes your best friend?
- Have you experienced death in your family? Who and how did they die?
- If your best friend described you, what are three words they would use?
- What subject do you enjoy most in school?
- What subject do you enjoy least in school?
- Are you planning to graduate/ seek further education?
- Have you traveled?
- If yes, where is your favourite destination?
- If you could travel anywhere, where do you want to go?
- What do you want to do when you get older?
- What is your dream job?
- Where do you want to live in 5 years?
- Who do you care about most in this world?
- Have you broken any bones?
- Describe one of your hobbies, why do you love it so much?
- Do you exercise?
- What do you like the most about your appearance?
- What do you dislike the most about your appearance?
You sit back in your chair looking at the word doc or notebook with all of you character’s answers. Do this exercise with each character and you will understand them so much better.