Let It Suck Series: revisiting “Write Better With Character Profiles”

As part of the “Let It Suck” series of posts, I wanted to discuss how knowledge of your characters informs writing decisions, and this post seems crucial to include, so I am reprinting it as a companion to this week’s new post. I hope it helps.

Here we go….

Screenwriting guru Syd Field once wrote “Plot is character, character is plot” He was and continues to be right. If we want to improve our stories, one way to do so is to improve our characters.

How? Well, the more we know about a character the more choices we will have when writing about him or her. 

One great way to get to know your characters is by filling out a profile sheet on each of them.

Writers who know deep background on their character write with more authority and depth about those characters. No bit of knowledge is too small; everything informs. I’ve created the character profile below after losing a cherished profile given to me in a writing class long, long ago in a college far, far back in my memory.

Is this one complete? Probably not, but these 110 profile elements definitely will serve as a strong start and work well in getting you to really know your characters. Feel free to fill out a profile for as many of your characters as you need. The more the better. 

With that in mind, open up to these questions, answer them thoughtfully, and you will find yourself knowing your characters and writing about them with significantly more confidence and depth.

Have fun.

CHARACTER PROFILE

Name

Age

Gender

Left/right handed

Hair color

Hair length

Hair style

Eye color

Vision (20/20, 20/60….)

Height

Weight

Measurements (men) chest/waist/inseam (women) bust/waist/hips

Build (athletic/flabby/thin/wide…)

Health status

Posture

Shoe size

Clothing sizes

Preferred style of dress

Style of work clothes (suit/uniform/casual…)

Style of non-work clothes (sweater/rock group T-shirt, button down, crop top…)

Financial account balances (savings/checking/credit cards/loans/stocks…..)

Occupation

Yearly salary

Benefits

Work schedule/hours

Length of time at that job

Career history

What did character want to be as a child?

What did character want to be as a college student?

How did character get from those aspirations to where s/he is now?

Favorite job and why

Worst job and why

Dream job

Nightmare job

Plans for retirement

Passions away from work

What does this person do with his/her free time?

What does s/he do most often when by her/himself?

Full current address

Birthplace

Where did s/he grow up?

What was that place like?

With whom did s/he grow up?

Best childhood memory

Worst childhood memory

Childhood friend

Still in contact with that childhood friend? Why or why not?

First sexual encounter (who? What? Where? Why? How?)

Best sexual experience and why

Worst sexual experience and why

First love (where did they meet? How did the relationship start? How long did it last? How deep into the relationship -physically and emotionally a did it go? Why and how did it end?)

How was his/her school experience?

Best school memory and why

Worst school memory and why

Favorite subject and why

Least favorite subject and why

Favorite teacher and why

Favorite quote from teacher

Least favorite teacher and why

Scariest moment from childhood and why

Funniest moment from childhood and why

Best moment with a parent and why

Worst moment with a parent and why

Parents jobs

Parents financial picture while character was growing up

Favorite teen memory

Worst teen memory

Favorite college (or early 20s) memory/moment

Worst college (or early 20s) memory/moment

What pushes his/her buttons/gets him/her angry?

Turn ons

Turn offs

Pets? Explain

 Eating habits

Drinking habits

Favorite meal

Favorite beverage

Favorite snack when happy

Favorite snack when sad or angry

Is s/he handy with tools?

Workout regimen

Reading habits

Online habits

What tech does s/he use and how often/ how well/for what reasons?

What social media does s/he use how often and how well and for what reason?

Has character ever used online dating?

Ever have a one night stand?

Ever have an unusual romantic encounter?

Ever cheated on someone?

Ever been cheated one?

Any unusual encounters?

Religious upbringing

Current religious level of affiliations or reason character abandoned religion

Political affiliations or beliefs

All-time favorite movie and why

All-time favorite song and why

All-time favorite book and why

All-time favorite television show and why

Which sports teams does character root for and why

How are character’s sleep patterns?

Average hours of sleep per session?

Restful or fitful sleep? Why?

Favorite physical activity

How well can character run and why?

Does character tend to be hot, cold, or comfortable in his/her environment?

Local weather?

Describe community where character lives – country? Suburbs? City? Outer space?

Describe the environment where the character works in exacting detail

What does s/he dream of these days?

  
</ Ryan is author of City of Woe, available on Kindle and in print. For more info, click here.<

Advertisements

About chrisryanwrites

My name is Christopher Ryan. I am a former award-winning journalist turned high school teacher, and I have written since reading S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS when I was in elementary school. I have independently published an award-winning debut novel, CITY OF WOE, plus the prequel short story collection CITY OF SIN, the sequel novel CITY OF PAIN, a high school thriller novel GENIUS HIGH, and several high adventure novelettes for the Rapid Reads series featuring Alex Simmons' African-American adventurer BLACKJACK All are available via amazon.com, as is my children's book, THE FERGUSON FILES - THE MYSTERY SPOT. Additionally, I was nominated for a supporting actor award for my work in the multiple award-winning independent film, CLANDESTINE, from Feenix Films. I blog about writing, life, pop culture, the journey of learning to promote my independently published work, my efforts to secure a traditional publishing contract, and my career as a teacher.
This entry was posted in comics, digital publishing, ebook publishing, fiction, film, independent publishing, self-publishing, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Let It Suck Series: revisiting “Write Better With Character Profiles”

  1. Wow, this is so comprehensive! It’s going to be very useful for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s