1. The Backward OX
    Offline

    The Backward OX Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Outback Queensland, Australia, far from the maddin

    Character Template

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Backward OX, Jul 10, 2009.

    I’m starting to realise I need to profile my characters. Anyone have a list of suggestions regarding what I need to know about them?

    Thanks.
     
  2. losthawken
    Offline

    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

    Joined:
    May 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,150
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Maine
    What makes you think you need to profile your characters?

    The characters should be defined and represented by the story in which you have them set. Hence, the character will be what you need them to be...

    I suppose you could write a story in which you modify the plot to fit the responses of a static character that you've profiled.

    But I think it more interesting and powerful to define the PLOT and then modify your characters to bring it out in the story.

    I suggest simply writing until you 'get to know' your characters. You don't profile your friends in order to remember what they are like do you? Well, I hope you don't... Most people just spend time with them getting to know them. Do the same with your characters and you will find them to have more depth and complexity than you expected.

    Good Luck ;-)

    ~JG
     
  3. cybrxkhan
    Offline

    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2009
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    13
    What I do know is that you shouldn't get into useless specifics, like "Favorite Food" or "Favorite Color". That stuff is all useless, unless there is an interesting and perhaps personality-related reason why - for example, if a character likes french fries because it is what her now-dead daddy always bought for her when she was little, so the french fries are a nostalgic and emotional thing.

    Physical descriptions are necessary, of course, but if you don't want to overdo it, there's no need to - just enough so you have a good idea in your head.

    Anyhow, you should look for the character's general attitude and behavior. You should also look into how they act towards different people, as this should give you a good idea of what they like or dislike in people, how they interact socially. Most importantly, however, you should figure out WHY they do what they do. This will give you, in my opinion, the deepest understanding of your character. Why does the guy hate that ethnicity so much, is there some secret past he is hiding? Or does he hate their cultural custom of arranged marriage? But then why would he hate arranged marriage in the first place? Was he in an arranged marriage once? And so on and on. Knowing why a character acts a way or does things can lead to a whole new realm of possibilities.

    Take for example this.

    You're writing a profile for your typical tomboy girl character. Normally you'd just say, "Alice can fight really good, she has good swordsmanship and marksmanship skills."

    Alright, so what? If you just put that in your profile, that'd be nothing. If you put in the why, it becomes so much more meaningful. For example, in the previous example, there's a very clear difference in personality if you said "Alice only fights to protect the weak because she has a good sense of justice" as opposed to "Ever since she first killed a squirrel when she was six, she always lusted for blood because she wanted to have a sense of control and power". In my opinion even those examples are not deep enough, but I think you get the idea - actions, attitudes, behaviors are one thing, but what is underneath the person, what causes them to do what they do... That is what you should put in your profile.

    Which is why my profiles are never usually the "charts" or that kind of thing; I usually write a small paragraph or two about my characters. Profiles and outlines, in my opinion, can really help you to organize your thoughts and figure out things - but don't let them completely control your writing. Have a little liberty - look at things you may have overlooked if you had stuck to the hardcore structure of an outline.
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Record exactly the information you currently know about each character. Uniform laundry lists of character details are pointless, in my opinion.
     
  5. melissa-jaynenz
    Offline

    melissa-jaynenz New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hutt Valley, Wellington, New Zealand
    I thought character templates were for so writers don't forget what they look like or so they don't write different things about that character in different parts of the plot or story. I find them to be very helpful so i can go back to them as a preference, i chose what i thought was important or i googled character templates and browsed one until i found one that suited me.
     
  6. Kathryn
    Offline

    Kathryn New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Adding to what the others have said: I think that important dates in your characters life could be also useful to record (birthdates, days important family members died/were born, etc)


    those are the things that are important to the continuity of the story, but likely to be forgotten.
     
  7. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    You have your story for that. With all the time you put into writing and editing your story, the details should be second nature to you. However, if you need to take notes to collect some of the finicky details (birthdate, cousin's name, name of the school where she was beat up for lunch money), by all means, keep notes. But a character sheet? Just collect the details you have already written and need to remember - half of them. or more, wouldn't have a place on a generic profile form anyway.
     
  8. MarlzBob
    Offline

    MarlzBob Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Character templates work if you write them from your character's point of view. Even if you don't plan on writing in first person.
     

Share This Page