Planning – Part 4 (Character Profiles)

The key to creating better plots rests in a deeper understanding of character.

Kristen Lamb

Alongside writing the outline, I’ve officially started on the character profiles. In my last post, I discussed the importance of how important details, like names, are to a story. Creating character profiles (including their appearance, age, values, experiences, goals etc) are just as important, in my opinion.

Determining the physical attributes of a character, such as hair, eyes, nose, height/weight, disabilities etc, is very useful, not just to guide the readers imagination, but to also allow the writer to keep track of these details, and to use them seamlessly when writing. I recall reading a book once that had contradicting physical descriptions about one of its characters, and it ruined the flow of the story for me because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, to avoid doing this to other readers (and to myself), I suggest keeping a record of physical characteristics.

Knowing what the character values, has experienced and what their long term and short term goals are, provides the writer with a deeper understanding and gives purpose for the characters actions. To allow my readers to empathize with the characters I’m creating, I need to get into their skin, understand their personality traits and psychological states. I think having a good grasp on who my characters are, will allow me to develop my plot and their character arcs much more realistically.

Don’t you get so annoyed when you’re reading a book and all of a sudden a character says or does something that is so out of tune with who they are? Not to say a character can’t surprise us or change over a story line, but if there are to be unexpected changes within a character, it still needs to make sense.

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