5 Reasons Authors Need Character Profiles
What is a Character Profile?
Whether an author is a pantster or a planner, it’s worthwhile to spend time on a character profile. Some people call them character sketches or character resumes. Regardless of the name, the character profile outlines your character. When you complete a character profile, you’ll find that you learn your characters and why they do what they do.
1 - What is included in a Character Profile?
Everything! Just kidding. But include enough to visualize your character. You want to know their name and age. Where do they live? Do they have parents? Siblings? A spouse? Friends? What drives them? What are their fears? Where do they live? How much money do they make? How about their education? Click here to download a sample Character Profile to get the wheels of creativity turning.
2 - Do I need to include everything from my Character Profile in my novel?
Nope. The purpose of investing time in your character profile is to learn your character. Include what makes sense. The rest of your character sketch serves two purposes. It makes sure YOU know your character and why they do what they do. And it helps you write a more character-driven novel. When you understand your character thoroughly, you can add details that enhance your story.
When you DON’T take the time to learn your character:
Chanelle sat in the chair.
When you DO take the time to learn your character:
Chanelle lowered herself into her recliner, crossed one leg over her knee, then smoothed the front of her leather skirt.
3 - Character Profiles ensure each character has a purpose
Character Profiles force us, as authors, to think about the purpose of every character in our novels. Does that mean we need to have a detailed Character Profile for every character? Of course not. But, in creating your profile, you will ask yourself what role will each character play in the story and how will each character interact with the others. One of my lit sisters told me she had a character who she thought was a side character, but she soon realized that he was trying to steal the show in the book. By getting to know her character, she realized he was a dominant player, and she enhanced his storyline.
4 - Character Profiles can move you through writer’s block
Many times writer’s block will occur because you don’t know your character. You are halfway through your draft and don’t know where to go. I had a character in a short story I wrote in the Single Mama Dating Drama anthology called Never Go Back. In that story, I was trying to decide how the story should end. My "mama" was caught in a compromising position, and I needed to figure out if and what the consequence should be. I was stuck. Monica, the writer, wanted to take the story in one direction. But my characters, Janay and Archer, were telling me something different. Ultimately, because I’d learned my characters, I wrote the ending that made my editor want to throw the book at her television. Wanna know what happened? I give you the story as a freebie when you join my Inner Circle on my website.
5 - Character Profiles keep you from writing the same character with different names.
Have you ever read a book and two or more of the characters had the same voice? Did they drive the same type of car? Live in the same type of home? Dress the same? Speak the same?
That mistake leads to a boring book and occurs when the author doesn’t have a firm handle on each of their character’s voices. Even identical twins will have unique personalities.
You are pouring everything you have into your work, hoping readers will enjoy reading as much as you enjoyed writing. Spend time in this part of the creative process. You will be so glad that you did.
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