Characters In order to build a complete picture
of your character, in your own mind,
it is a good idea to sketch out their
attributes before you start writing
your story.
These can be physical or
personality-wise and will help you to
know how your character would handle
a particular situation or what he/she
would look like at any given time in
your story.
You won’t necessarily introduce your
character by saying “She is tall, with
blue eyes and black hair. She wears
skinny jeans with a hoody
and glasses…”
But rather, you will find that you
work this information in as your
story goes on…“She stared at him
with her blue eyes, over the rim of
her glasses…”
Having characteristics firmly in your
mind before you even start writing,
will ensure this happens as part of the
natural writing process…
Let's start by considering
a few initial details
about our character…
What is his name? What age is he?
Where is he from?
Does he have an accent?
Now let’s look at some
physical traits…
What colour are his eyes?
What colour is his hair?
What colour is his skin?
What height is he?
What is his shoe size?
Is there anything visually
distinctive about him?
Now for his personality…
How would you describe him?
What is
his sense of humour?
Is he kind? Is he loyal?
Is he a negative person?
What makes him happy?
What makes him sad?
What are his likes and dislikes?
What is his favourite music?
What does he fear?
Bad Habits…
Does he have any bad ones?
Does he pick his nose?
Does he bite his nails?
Does he crack his knuckles?
Does he scratch all of the time?
Does he eat too much sugar?
Or maybe he only has good habits?
Does he always say ‘please’ and
‘thank you?’ Does he hold doors open
for the ladies? Does he shower
every day? Does he always eat a
healthy diet?
How about his home life?
Is it a happy one?
Who are his parents?
Has he any siblings?
Does he share a room with a sibling?
Is he messy?
Does he help out at home?
And friends? Does he have a
best friend? Is he popular or not?
Does he have a pet that never leaves
his side or is he a loner altogether?
What is he like at school/work?
Now… A very quick
mental exercise is to choose
your favourite character
from a book and take five
minutes to write down everything
you know about him/her.
When you are done, read over it
and see how many of the above
questions it answers for you.
Remember that you know all of
these things only because you read
their story. You were not handed a
sheet with your favourite character’s
profile on it, before you read the story.
And therein lies the art of good
character portrayal – getting
all of the information across subtly,
throughout your story.
If you know your character
well enough these things
should reveal themselves as the
story progresses.
To begin your character profiling,
go to Week 1/Exercise Sheet 2 and
fill one in for each of your main
characters. You do not have to write
every single thing down, just main
points, so long as you are building
a picture in your head. You can
also add to this picture
as your story moves on.
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