Made in America

How to Write a Character Profile

The characters of your book are key to driving your plot forward.  Without them, your storyline would be flat and stale. If you’re starting out on your writing journey, this blog is for you, because we want to help you conceptualize and create characters that your readers can relate to on a personal, human level. One way of doing so is by creating a character profile. Never created one? Let us help.

Though it might sound strange, the best way to think of a character profile is as a dating profile (bear with us, we can explain). In short, a character profile outlines the ins and outs of a character. It details their name, age, where they’re from, what they like, what they don’t like, etc.

Character profiles are a great starting point because they will help you develop your characters and save you the aggravation of building out your character as you go. The latter can prove to be difficult and lead you to trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, meaning you’re forcing your characters to act a certain way that ultimately doesn’t fit their personalities.

Now, a character profile isn’t just for the main character. If done correctly, you should have a profile for all of your main and primary supporting characters to help you connect the dots between the characters and your overall plot. It’s also important to note that, no matter the genre, a character profile can prove to be a useful tool in keeping your facts straight and developing your story around these traits.

So, we’ve taken a look at the basics, and now it’s time to give you the rundown on some important pieces of information that you should consider when building out a character profile.

Let’s begin.

  1. Name – Might sound pretty basic, but you want to pay attention to the names that you give your characters and think of how that name will be perceived by your readers. For example, let’s say that your character is a blue collar farmer who lives off the land and isn’t into the big bells and whistles of city life. It probably wouldn’t make sense to name this character Wellington Longbottom III. See what we mean? It wouldn’t fit.
  2. Demeanor – What is your character’s overall demeanor? Are they happy? Sad? Stressed or calm? This information will allow your readers to walk in the character’s shoes and get a better understanding of the inner workings of your character.
  3. Age – The character’s age should be in direct correlation to their role in the storyline and should make sense for your character to carry out various scenes in your book.
  4. Interests – What does your character like to do? Do they have any hobbies? Be sure to offset their interests with things that they don’t like in order to create a well-rounded persona.
  5. Backstory – Give your readers a behind-the-scenes look into the character’s life. Where are they from? What was their upbringing like? What’s their life like now? Do they have a family? This information will help shape the character into a relatable person for your readers.
  6. Appearance – This is perhaps the most crucial step in a character profile as it will help your readers visualize the character:
    • How tall are they?
    • What color is their hair? Is it short? Long? Curly? Straight?
    • Does your character have a striking, distinguishing feature?
    • Do they have any quirks such as twitches, nervous habits?
    • What’s their style? Are they straight-laced? Laidback?

All of this information will help you build your character and humanize them to your audience. The general rule of thumb when creating a character profile is to approach the process holistically to create a well-rounded, relatable character.

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2017

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