Today is all about characters. I find it useful to write a character profile so I have an idea of who this person is – it helps me determine how they might behave in certain situations and what their motivations are – and this can help build fuller, more rounded, authentic characters.
I have come across character profile forms from 1 to 35 pages long! They get writers to consider basic facts, like a character’s age and gender, on to such things as their appearance, behaviour, familial background, medical records, voice, grooming, etc., etc…the list goes on.
I am doing an initial character sketch of three potential characters. Apart from the basic information of age and gender, I have also considered: occupation, living situation, friends, education and love interests. While I haven’t, as yet, thought too much about what they look like, I have allowed myself to include whatever general thoughts I had about these characters, along with any possible plot points that I considered relevant. There is still MUCH work to be done, but this provides the basis from which to develop.
See the ‘Resources‘ page for a printable copy of my character sketch form.
If you are interested in learning more about character development, you might check out the following book:
Kress N, Dynamic Characters, F & W Publications Inc., Ohio, 2004.
The English Teaching Online website also has some useful resources. While these are aimed at English teachers, I’m sure you’ll find their resources interesting. You have to register, but registration is free. Some of the resources are basic, but that is always a good place to start!
Here is my preliminary assessment of one of the secondary characters I’m creating:
- He is 18 years old.
- He is a gardener’s apprentice.
- He lives in the gardeners’ cottage. It is simple with dormitory style sleeping arrangements and a large combined kitchen/dining space, at the back is a wet space (bathroom kind of thing), attached on the back is a tool shed and a potting room. Gorge has a simple bed and hooks for his clothes. Beneath his pillow he keeps a pressed flower Annabella gave him, with a lock of her hair tied with red ribbon, wrapped in a piece of calf skin.
- He is friends with Šebestián, Zikmund, Antonin.
- He is Filip’s younger brother.
- He is illiterate.
- He is in love with Annabella.
- He is asked by Šebestián, Zikmund, Antoin, Filip to betray Annabella.
- He is practical, pragmatic and does not buy into irrational fears of the community or his peers, but he understands their fears. This makes him quite different from the other boys.
- He understands social conventions, knows his place, knows when hold his tongue.
- He is conservative and contented.
- Five years ago he was: he had just arrived to work with the gardeners. He was excited and nervous – he loved working in the garden, but his secret hope was of running into Annabella more often. He fell in love with her when he was eight years old and has loved her from afar ever since.