Getting To Know You: Creating Character Profiles As Part Of The Writing Process

When you’re an aspiring writer in the process of creating your own work of art that will someday be read by a wider audience, you naturally want to obtain the best advice on how to go about the process. I’ve been reading plenty of articles or watching interviews of artists who explain what tips and tricks they use to spark their creativity. One of the best nuggets of wisdom I have taken from them and applied to my own work in progress is creating character profiles.

Writing a profile for each of your main characters for your story is a fun and helpful way to get to know and understand them much better. What do they look like? What are their favorite foods? What kind of clothes do they wear? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

I took a writing class back in January that solely focused on creating interesting and realistic characters. One of the things this one day intensive course mentioned is the idea of conducting an interview with your characters. When you only have a vague idea of who these people are, the best thing a writer can do is take the time to know who they are. You’ll be spending months or maybe years with your characters. You might as well get used to being around them all the time and making them your dearest friends until your book gets published.

I never really created profiles for any of my characters before. Usually if I had a story idea I wanted to explore, I would blindly write my way through it until I figured out where the story was headed and what the personalities of my characters would end up having.

After reading many instances of famous writers and actors crafting profiles or diaries as a tool to get inside the heads of their characters, I figured it may be useful to make this a part of my own process for writing. Taking the character class cemented my decision to buy a separate notebook dedicated for character creation.

Filling out every detail of how I envision my characters to act and feel, how different their life experiences are going to be in comparison to the others they will be crossing paths with in my story, has helped me begin to figure out who they are as individuals and just how much they’ll be influenced or transformed by their environment and their interactions with other people.

Answering questions like my character’s favorite book or which brand of shampoo they use are irrelevant and will most likely never make it into the story itself, but these small, seemingly insignificant details does inform what kind of person they are. As humans we all have likes and dislikes. Moments of happiness and periods of sadness. We live full lives and continue to grow with each new experience we have. All of them have shaped us into the people we have become, and it’s no less different for the fictional characters we read about in books. They’re just put in extraordinary situations that may not ever happen to us.

I’m still uncertain if these characters feel as real as I want them to be. There’s so much more to uncover and tap into as I continue developing my fantasy novel and their roles in it. But I think that’s half the fun of writing—your characters can be whoever you want them to be.

2 thoughts on “Getting To Know You: Creating Character Profiles As Part Of The Writing Process

  1. I’ve recently been reading a book called Creative Writing by Adéle Ramet and have just made it to the creating a character profile section. I too would blindly follow the story and not bother to look at my characters and how they would act. Hopefully this will change.

    1. I’m finding the character profile process very useful. It’s worth a try and it’s a fun thing to do when you’re not working on your story! Hope it works for you too!

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