Author Topic: Creating a character profile  (Read 4078 times)

Offline FrankieG702

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Creating a character profile
« on: September 30, 2015, 04:21:13 PM »
I was wondering if anyone has used random profiles from Facebook to get a jump-start on a character through their likes, etc.

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2015, 07:17:47 PM »
I have heard some people do, but I've found doing a sketch of my character's background more helpful to me.

I some times start as far back as when they were young, describe their family, the general area they grew up such as a farm or other rural setting, small town or city.

I also get into the character's personality by seeing how he/she interacted with their family and others.

The first time I did this was really and accident when I was fiddling around trying to understand a particular character better. Before I knew it, I had written more than 2 pages before he reached the age when he showed up in my story.

And reading back over it, I found I did know this guy better and how he would react to the other characters in the story.

Most Character Outlines I've seen would not work for my characters because I write mostly fantasy.   
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Offline LRSuda

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2015, 07:40:15 PM »
I dunno...

May just be me, but I'm not comfortable borrowing from personal profiles.

I have used tarot cards, though. I'll pick three of four randomly, read their meanings in the pamphlet and see what kind of character results from what I read. That's just for a start. I'll take that and build from there, much the same way Alice does. I have also come up with some pretty good premises using this method, too. 




hillwalker3000

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2015, 09:21:04 AM »
Use your imagination. It's the best tool a writer has - and it makes the character uniquely yours instead of a cut-and-paste job from the real world. By all means store away your personal observations of character traits etc. as you people-watch. But using Facebook profiles sounds dangerously close to stalking.  ;D

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Tony_A20

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2015, 11:05:15 AM »
Hello Frankie,

Getting to know and understand story characters is an essential step in story planning. I suggest you first think carefully about the physical appearance of the character you visualize as filling the role in the story. Just as film actors are cast who fit the director's vision of a proposed character, authors should find a good photo example of every important story character. The easiest way to do this is to review character photos found on stockphoto websites.

Then, create a full personal profile of each character that describes in detail the background and motivation of the character in the story.

A character profile should be as detailed as possible, even if most of the details never appear in the story, so that story characters stay "in character" at all times. Also include characteristic speech patterns that serve to identify characters by their dialogue and reduces the use of dialogue tags.  The protagonist should also have a personal prejudice/phobia identified that affects the character's behaviour at the start of the story, which is changed or overcome by the story's end to show how story events have affected the hero. Here is an example from my book Story Craft

"The WIFE: Melissa Susan Anderson ADDRESS: 6 Wellgrove Court
TELEPHONE: 555-6724 AGE: 42 HEIGHT: 5'6" WEIGHT: 121
MARRIED: 16 years CHILDREN None
MEASUREMENTS: 35-29-36 EYES:Brown HAIR:Brown
EDUCATION: Master of Arts from City University
EMPLOYMENT: Various part time jobs while attending school. Two years at Vanity Gallery of Fine Art after graduation. Volunteer work for the City Art Museum.
ORGANIZATIONS: Democratic Organization for Womens Advancement; Womens Club of America; Wellgrove Golf and Country Club; Willow Creek Home for Abandoned Children.
SPORTS: Likes golf, but only shoots in low 90' s. Hates horseback riding. Plays cards with friends
TALENT/ SKILLS: Fair portrait artist. Good, but thin, singing voice. Melissa is a well spoken, upper class married woman. Married stockbroker Jack Anderson after six month engagement, when she was 26 and he was 38. Met husband while volunteer at university alumni reunion. Melissa is an attractive, intelligent woman with excellent taste and grooming. Because of her husband's wealth, athletic exuberance and outspoken attitude, she has become reserved and retiring in public. Her friends and social contacts respect her opinions and listen when she chooses to speak. Her friends know very little of her background and Melissa does not discuss her past prior to entering university. Her support of the Willow Creek Home for Abandoned Children is not known by her husband or friends. She took her first lover two days after her thirty-sixth birthday party because her husband drove a female guest home and didn't return for two days. She met her present lover six months ago at the City Art Museum exhibition for new artists. Three weeks later she showed up on his doorstep with a moving van and announced she had rented him an apartment and it was time to move.

"Character descriptions permit a writer to know and understand each character, and consequently keep their persona and actions consistent throughout the story. As a story is written, additional character attributes or information should be included in the character description. It's a good idea to include a dialogue and voice profile with examples. Print each description on a separate page, and keep them close as writing progresses to ensure everyone stays in character at all times."

I don't think using personal characteristics of real people found on Facebook is a good idea unless a story is biographical and about an actual person who is on the Facebook website.

JMO
Tony

Offline MaryRuth

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2015, 10:16:02 AM »
I dunno...

May just be me, but I'm not comfortable borrowing from personal profiles.

I have used tarot cards, though. I'll pick three of four randomly, read their meanings in the pamphlet and see what kind of character results from what I read. That's just for a start. I'll take that and build from there, much the same way Alice does. I have also come up with some pretty good premises using this method, too. 

I love this idea, Lisa. Might look for my old tarot cards and give it a go!


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Offline MaryRuth

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2015, 10:18:47 AM »
I recently found this free resource which might come in handy.

http://cdn.writershelpingwriters.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/character-profile-questionnaire.pdf

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Offline thatollie

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2015, 07:20:20 PM »
I fully intend to write character profiles when I know my characters better.
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Offline Demmy

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2016, 05:23:11 AM »
I have great character profiles but no plot  :-\
'When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story,’ he said. ‘When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.'  Stephen King - On Writing.

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Offline Clarius

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2016, 02:35:37 PM »
If you're doing the questionnaire thing consider pretending you're interviewing the character and write down their answers to your questions in their voice, and not only what they say but how they react to the question.
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us

 - Robert Burns

Offline Amanda George

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2016, 10:12:46 AM »
Maybe set up an email address for each of your characters and email that address as the author then send it, go and grab a drink or snack that your character would have, open up the author email you sent and reply to it as that character.  That's what I did when I hit writer's block in the second of my Toni trilogy and it worked for me, so maybe it'll work for you too?   ???
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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2016, 11:08:59 AM »
Or, you could try to remember that they're not real, and it's your job as a writer to invent them.

Offline sallyj

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2016, 02:49:47 PM »
I find that spending a lot of time on character profiles is wasteful. Does it really matter what their favourite colour is and what they liked to do as a child? I find that I can only get inside a character's head when I start writing scenes featuring that character. Then they start to come alive and it doesn't matter about stuff such as their body measurements - unless being fat or thin is relevant to the story.
But that's just how I work.

Offline Emery

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2016, 03:32:45 PM »
I find that spending a lot of time on character profiles is wasteful. Does it really matter what their favourite colour is and what they liked to do as a child? I find that I can only get inside a character's head when I start writing scenes featuring that character. Then they start to come alive and it doesn't matter about stuff such as their body measurements - unless being fat or thin is relevant to the story.
But that's just how I work.

That's where I am. I have written some longer pieces and for some reason thought it was necessary for me to have sketches of every character--huge waste of time.

Along what Jo said...use the characters for the betterment of the story. I usually have a firm grasp on my protagonist and antagonist. Everyone else, at least for me, serves a purpose. A foil to a characteristic of the main characters, another minor character in conflict with the main for the desire of the story, a counterpoint to the complexity of the antagonist.

It sounds formulaic, but it's not for me. For example:

I have a story bouncing around in my mind about a boy finding a casket during a flood which in turns leads to a haunting of sorts and a grizzly end. My main character, Wells, is an eighteen year old dropout who feels trapped in his lowcountry home and family. He struggles to escape his reality and is torn with the choice of leaving his family behind and striking out on his own or settling for a life he hates.

So...his father is the settler. He lives in his daddy's daddy's house, self medicates, and takes out his frustrations on his family and own body. His brother is younger, but is blissfully happy in the country life and has no desire to ever step out. Characteristics of important, minor characters are derived from the major points of the protagonist.

I'm probably overthinking things, but that's what I do.
All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Creating a character profile
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2016, 04:48:07 PM »
Different stokes and all that I guess.

For my main characters I do create a back story to help me understand how they became the person they are at the beginning of the story. This usually includes physical descriptions, but they are for me, not necessarily the story unless some detail actually fits.

But info on their personality, habits, occupation and even more in some cases helps me to understand and hopefully show them better.

At times a walk-on character surprises me by wanting to take a bigger part than I had intended for them. When this happens I take a look into their past live also to learn what turned them into the person they are.

I've met some really nasty characters this way.

MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi