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  1. LagunaX1
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    LagunaX1 Member

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    Character Profile

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by LagunaX1, Jul 7, 2008.

    This is a character profile I've made for the main character in a Novel I am planning. I haven't filled in education yet as I haven't researched it yet. Opinions and ways I could improve the character would help, thanks.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Character Profile Worksheet


    Basic Statistics

    Name: Carlos Faraday
    Age: 38
    Nationality: English
    Socioeconomic Level as a child: Introverted, has few friends.
    Socioeconomic Level as an adult: Less introverted but still has few friends, likes to keep to himself and his family matters within the family.
    Hometown: Bolsover
    Current Residence:
    5 Milton St
    London, UK
    Occupation: Private Detective
    Income: Varies
    Talents/Skills:
    Salary: Varies
    Birth order: 1
    Siblings (describe relationship): none.
    Spouse (describe relationship): Mary Faraday happily married but Carlos’ dedication to the case begins to drive them apart.
    Children (describe relationship): Matthew Faraday, good student, very intelligent, gets along well with father, takes an interest in the case before his father.
    Grandparents (describe relationship): Mike and Beth Faraday, both deceased.
    Grandchildren (describe relationship): None.
    Significant Others (describe relationship): Mary Faraday. (See above).
    Relationship skills: Comes across as dark and selfish due to his introverted ways, but he is able to maintain a strong relationship once it is made.


    Physical Characteristics:


    Height: 5ft 9
    Weight: 165lbs
    Race: English/Caucasian
    Eye Color: Green
    Hair Color: Brown
    Glasses or contact lenses? No.
    Skin color: White
    Shape of Face: Inverted Triangle
    Distinguishing features: Scar across cheek from a knife wound.
    How does he/she dress? Jeans, black shoes, brown belt, white shirt and a brown trench coat.
    Mannerisms: Brushes hand back through hair a lot.
    Habits: (smoking, drinking etc.) Doesn’t smoke or drink.
    Health: Healthy, no ailments.
    Hobbies: Tennis and bowling, he also enjoys golf.
    Favorite Sayings: “It’s the thrill of the hunt...”
    Speech patterns: Often speaks in questions.
    Disabilities: None
    Style (Elegant, shabby etc.): Rough walk shabby style.
    Greatest flaw: Scared of the dark.
    Best quality:


    Intellectual/Mental/Personality Attributes and Attitudes

    Educational Background:
    Intelligence Level: 132
    Any Mental Illnesses?: No.
    Learning Experiences:
    Character's short-term goals in life: What ever his case is.
    Character's long-term goals in life: Doesn’t really have one, keeps his mind in the present.
    How does Character see himself/herself? A bringer of justice.
    How does Character believe he/she is perceived by others? Quiet, rude and arrogant.
    How self-confident is the character? He has confidence in his ability to do his job but little in much else.
    Does the character seem ruled by emotion or logic or some combination thereof? Logic, but emotion begins to take over during the story.
    What would most embarass this character? Being humiliated in public, or being bested at his job.


    Emotional Characteristics



    Strengths/Weaknesses: Strong head, doesn’t get phased easily.
    Introvert or Extrovert? Introvert
    How does the character deal with anger? He directs it towards his job as determination.
    With sadness? Keeps it locked away.
    With conflict? Deals with it.
    With change? Accepts it.
    With loss? Keeps his sadness hidden.
    What does the character want out of life? He lives to ring down criminals.
    What would the character like to change in his/her life? Be more well known, get more out of his job.
    What motivates this character? Mostly money, but during the story it turns into hatred and determination.
    What frightens this character? The darkness, losing.
    What makes this character happy? Catching his prey. His family.
    Is the character judgmental of others? Very.
    Is the character generous or stingy? Stingy.
    Is the character generally polite or rude? Depends on the situation and who he is talking to.


    Spiritual Characteristics

    Does the character believe in God? No.
    What are the character's spiritual beliefs? He doesn’t believe in anything with no proof.
    Is religion or spirituality a part of this character's life? No.
    If so, what role does it play?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    There is also another section which says how he effects the story and other characters and what not, but I don't think I want to reveal that stuff yet.

    Noticed I missed out best quality as well, for some reason thinking of it is hard for me lol, also with worst quality I'm not sure about it.

    edit: Also noticed I forgot talent/skills as well, so yea, the blank areas are what I'm haiving trouble filling in, so any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I personally tend to avoid "laundry lists" of character elements. I prefer to let the character reveal himself or herself through the writing. I think it leads to a more flexible, realistic character.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that! [as usual, re cog's continually cogent and carefully-crafted comments]
     
  4. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    It's too easy to list traits and think you've got a deep character. You shouldn't need this kind of list, as it impedes two things- first, it makes the character set in stone (if you don't believe characters can be set in stone, try changing a character's name. It's very, very painful), and second, it's tricky to develop the character from the list into something else. Of course, it's great to have the checklist around so that you know what you should know about the character eventually, but don't use it to jam the character into a mould. Ask the character what the answers are, don't tell them.

    Know your characters inside and out- one great character-description concept I found was, 'some people can make you see characters, and you think you might know them walking down the street. Others can make you see characters that you, deep in your core, know, even with your eyes shut. Example- Everything about him was rather, except for his eyes. His eyes were quite.' I think that's how you should know your characters. Not by a list, but by their essence- by actually knowing them.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also consider that a list describes a character at a moment in time. The best characters are dynamic - they change as a result of the events they experience. A checklist of traits resists evolution of your character.
     
  6. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I'm not one to make character lists either. I prefer to allow the character develop as I write and review, seeing how he/she acts and reacts to the given circumstances. If I'm happy with how things are going, I allow it to progress. Sticking to a list may have the disadvantage of penning you onto a specific, narrow, path; therefore curbing creative possibilities. Using a more organic method instead of getting bogged down in detail might lead to better results. You may find it beneficial to allow a peripheral sense of your character develop within yourself, leading to a stronger connection between the pen and the word, considering the pen is connected to the heart, or core, of the writer.
     
  7. photophreak
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    photophreak New Member

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    In reading this, I wonder how an English couple named Mike and Beth came to name their son Carlos.

    That just jumped out at me. Maybe you delve into that in your story?
     
  8. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    This might sound kind of lame, but the best way to make a character profile better is to write the character in action, in the story. As someone who uses and loves character profiles, I've found them useless if I try to fill them out before I've even gotten to know the character through writing the story. It just seems backwards, to me. You're basically creating a list of what you think you know about the character; I can assure you that once you start writing the character, you may find a lot of things you didn't know, even with a complete profile at hand.

    Write some stories or a novel with the character first, then try filling in the profile and see how it goes.
     
  9. FantasyWitch
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    FantasyWitch Contributing Member

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    I don't list anything other than eye colour and hair colour so I don't say the character has black hair and green eyes one minute and red hair and blue eyes the next,.

    Other than that it is better to see the character reveal him/herself through the writing
     
  10. TheFedoraPirate
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    TheFedoraPirate Contributing Member

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    I usually like to write just the name, age, and height, a short summary of any important pre-story events, and the character's motivation ... knowing what what motivates a character I find is most helpful when writing them.
     
  11. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    My advice to you would be just to write him. LEt him talk to you, let him be himself, and you just be the one to write down his words.
     
  12. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Overall, though, I have to agree with most of the other posters: profiles this detailed are not helpful in writing the story, and can actually be constricting.
     
  13. The Dark Writer
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    The Dark Writer Member

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    I'd only do that for my MC, doing a character profile for every one of my characters would take a long time.
     
  14. LagunaX1
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    LagunaX1 Member

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    I apologise for necroposting, but I kinda vanished after posting this, and while I have dropped this character since back then I have definately been helped by these comments. I tend to avoid character profiles now and do go with the flow, at least not as detailed profile, there are certain things I like set in stone and keep in mind, mainly avoid contradictions later on if I lose myself in the excitement of the plot or something, I find it helps to keep note of certain things to avoid it.

    Anyway thanks to all those who responded, I haven't written in a while but I have been recently, one of the reasons I remembered this site, also I remembered when thinking of place my friend could post poetry for feedback.

    So yea, I'm very sorry about necro posting my topic, but I felt bad about just seemingly abandoning this topic and wanted the members who commented to know that this feedback wasn't ignored and was very much appreciated.
     
  15. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Ah, just realized this was an old post. Apologies.

    Agreed. I don't like to make a huuuge list about the character because it really boxes you in. The character has no room to grow or change if you place them in a box!

    I do a very brief synopsis of the character. I always keep it pretty basic. Like five characteristics (personality), basic physical traits (like approx height, eye color, hair color, that's it), and one or two major life events the character went through that would possibly affect how they behave in a given situation. That's it though. It's basically a skeleton for the character and as the story progresses the character begins to get flesh and take on form.
     
  16. josh23
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    josh23 Banned

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    A character should be fluid and changing a list can only describe him for a moment in time, and for that reason i tend not to write lists.
    I usually try to write eye color, name, and hair color other than that i let the character develop. They might start out fat and lazy, but they then become motivated to get in shape for some reason.
     
  17. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    Sometimes, just so that I don't forget characters, I'll make a master list of all of my cast. Nothing fancy, just age, hair color, eye color, and their power if magical or psychic powers are relevant to the story. I don't go into too much detail, because my perception of the characters changes regularly (not to mention character development), and it would be too much work to go back into profiles and change too much.
     
  18. constant scribbler
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    constant scribbler Member

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    I really like all of the things you thought to add to your list. Make sure, as others have pointed out, to let your character flow and change. But that could be a great base as where to start your character and make you think of things you otherwise wouldn't think of. And ideas change all the time so don't feel bad about ditching the character. Though if the character is so well formed make sure to put him in an idea folder to use later.
     
  19. samanthacheryl
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    samanthacheryl New Member

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    I do use character profiles, but only to shape the image of the character in my mind after I have started writing. I very often look for an accompanying picture that I attach to the profile from stock photos off the net etc. It's by no means set in stone, and generally, I seldom use the character profile once things have started to take shape. My MC has a quite a detailed character profile, but looking at it now, 8 months later; a number of their attributes have changed.

    BTW- LAGUNA x1 "Rough walk shabby style" sounds like some kind of dance move :)
     
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  20. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually like to avoid them altogether. But, then, the OP did not ask about whether to use one, just opinions on how to improve his character's profile.
    So here's my opinion(s):
    Some things about your character are not likely to change appreciably from the beginning to the end of the story (height, weight (excluding something extraordinary or as part of a plot), ethnicity, eye/hair color, etc.) Other things ... How he dresses, for example, are hardly chiseled in stone. Does he ALWAYS wear "Jeans, black shoes, brown belt, white shirt and a brown trench coat"? Other things are subject to change throughout the story. You may, for instance, discover that your hero develops a terrible sickness through which he must persevere while attaining a goal. (And, with an I.Q. of around 130 - 135 he's got a mental illness, just not the kind most people think of when they hear the phrase!)

    Overall, your character study presents a character who is uninteresting and two dimensional. Y'see, the thing is, it's not what you put down on the profile sheet that makes the character, it's the things lurking in the background of his psyche - the things that make him so determined to win above all else - the things that push him to achieve that make him interesting. And those, or how he relates to them, are the things that are missing and so elusive in any character profile.

    Consider that, when children are young, they believe themselves to be quite grown at, say ... nine or ten. And they may be quite mature for a ten year old. But, as an adult, you know they have a lot of living to do and everything they experience will change them in unknown ways. And those same experiences will change the way they view, and react to the world. So, when that ten year old is 16 he now sees how young and innocent he was only 6 years earlier. Of course he now believes he is 'a grown up'. The fights with parents can be monumental as he stretches his indentity and tries on new things. And, again, he may be quite mature for a 16 year old. But, again, as a much older person, you can see what he does not. And you know he still has a lot of growing to do.
    The same is true of your characters. They are mere babes when your story begins, at least insofar as your awareness of them goes. As they move through your story, everything they experience changes them in both big and little ways that you never expected when you started out. Things you could not cubbyhole in some category slot on a profile sheet.
     
  21. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Beat me to it. :p

    It's very true though. If you do that then there's no room for the character to grow.

    I always just do a very short synopsis of the character. I list a handful of things that are core to who they are and a major life event that may shape how they behave in a given situation. Then I write and the rest happens on it's own. The characters really take on a life of their own if you leave them room to. :)
     
  22. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I didn't need it at all with my first novel, dealing with teenagers or older men. Where I do find an indepth profile sheet is now proving useful and I got the idea from this thread, is with a couple of characters who are female and middle aged like myself lol. And I find it very hard not to make them myself and to vary them.

    I used the character profile sheet and used it to give the characters one of the personality tests suggested in another thread by w176, and it really has helped me to seperate them from me and make them their own people:)
     

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