What's a story without its characters? A likeable and endearing cast of characters is absolutely key in keeping your audience engaged with your story. Often times, well-written and relatable characters are what endears fans to a series. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender and Harry Potter, which both have a dedicated fanbase and amazingly well-liked characters.
This is the reason why we'll be taking a look at how you can create well-rounded characters in this installment of our One Year Novel series series. And the answer is: make a character profile!
Last week, we walked you through creating a story skeleton. And now, we'll be walking you through what exactly goes into an effective character profile. Plus, to make things easier on you, we'll also be providing a character profile template that you can fill in as you please! So, without further ado, let's jump right into things.
Why create a character profile?
As a writers, chances are that you've seen at least one character profile template around on the Internet at some point. You may wonder, why should you bother filling out all this information when you'll probably never include most of them into your novel anyway?
But the point of a character profile isn't to flesh out a character for your readers – it's meant to flesh out a character for you. All these seemingly unnecessary information will help you get a better understanding of your character and, as a result, help you bring them to life on the page.
When you're able to give your character these little idiosyncrasies, the more realistic you'll be able to write them.
What goes into a character profile?
Character profiles generally have 4 main elements (though this may differ according to the character profile template you're using).
1. Their backstory
What better way to understand a character then by sorting out their backstories? Their past experiences — from childhood to their current age — can greatly shape their current personality traits, behaviors and thought processes. That's why this is one of the most important elements that absolutely has to be included in your character profile, no matter how mundane their backstory is.
Here are some details that you should strive to answer in your character profile:
- Any key events that happened in their past
- Their relationship with family
- Friendships and romantic relationships
- What jobs they've had
- Any hobbies they had or have
- Where they lived
2. Physical appearance
This is usually the part of the character profile that writers have the most fun with. It's always interesting to try to create a look for your character and bring them to life.
Of course, there's more to a character's physical appearance than just their height, weight and hair and eye color, such as:
- Any birthmarks or scars?
- Any unique physical traits?
- How they dress, or their fashion style
- The way they walk and carry themselves
- Their voice
It may be helpful to include visuals in your character profile for this section. Not only is it pretty fun, but having an actual image before your eyes will make your character feel more "real".
3. Personality and core
The personality of your character will be what makes or breaks them. When your character has an inconsistent personality, or behaves differently from his personality, your readers will lose immersion and therefore interest in your story.
If you're having trouble coming up with a clear-cut personality for your characters, consider looking at things like character archetypes. You can even look into personality types like MBTI and Enneagram, and give your characters the type that suits them best.
There are many things about your character's personality that your character profile can cover, and the best way to tackle this part of your character profile is to ask your character some questions, such as:
- Where do they lie on the introvert-extrovert spectrum?
- What are they afraid of?
- Are they a leader or a follower?
- Are they an optimist or a pessimist?
- What is their idea of happiness?
Pretending to "interview" your character can help you discover so much more about them and give them more dimension in your writing later.
How does your character sound? No, we're not talking about their voice; we're talking about the way they speak and act when interacting with others! A character's interaction style can greatly influence the relationships they have and the way other characters view them.
Spend some time in your character profile to address the following:
- Are their emotions easy to read?
- Do they curse often?
- Are they loud, or soft-spoken?
- Do they gesture a lot when talking?
- Do they make eye contact when speaking, or do they shift their gaze around?
With all that said, there are no hard and fast rules to what you can or cannot put into your character profile. Furthermore, the main elements may differ according to the genre of your story.
For example, a character profile for a main character in a romance novel may pay more attention to how they behave in a relationship, their love language, et cetera.
Your very own character profile template
If all that information is just a little too overwhelming for you, don't worry. We've got you covered with our very own character profile template! Simply open the template on JotterPad, and you're good to go!
We've also provided you with a space to input images to better illustrate how your character looks like! JotterPad allows you to upload images onto the document via Unsplash and via an image link.
And of course, JotterPad's cloud sync feature allows you to access your character profile template across multiple devices, from web to mobile (iOS and Android). That way, you can simply pull your mobile device out to add to the character profile, even when you're outdoors!
Enjoy the process! Fleshing out your character can be a really fun, and it's also a great writing warmup before you get started on your One Year Novel proper. So download the template today and get started!