Today, we’re continuing the 7 Creative Ways to Productively Procrastinate—a NaNoWriMo prep series. And the third tip is creating a character profile.
This is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. This is where I start and end my projects.
But I know many writers struggle with character development. I think it's because many resources are so generic. And that's not a bad thing because we must start somewhere.
- The name.
- The profession.
- The height.
- The weight.
- The eye color.
- The skin tone.
All of the things.
Your character profile can be as extensive or as simple as you like, and I have a few suggestions to help get you started.
Find a Picture.
To start I love finding a picture that gives me a great representation of my character. The picture is just for me, myself, my computer, and my creative pursuits. My goal is to cement the appearance of that character in my mind.
Define the Character Lie.
Another element in my character profile is: What is the lie the character believes?
The lie is an underlying belief that motivates many of the characters actions. For example, in romance a character may say, “I’ll never love again.” And it's a lie, usually attached to that. Like:
- All men are dogs.
- All men cheat.
- All women want a rich man and I'm just a regular guy.
You can honestly fill in the blank. But you and I know it’s a lie.
Defining your character’s lie helps you to build a character where you're not just skimming the surface. Where you get beneath the surface and create a character that readers can find themselves in or find their struggled in or relate to.
Character Journal Entry
The last element I’ll share is a journal entry for the character.
I call it a summary or journal entry. Sometimes I’ll title it “What I Know to Be True.” This is a little brain dump from the character's perspective.
Sometimes the entry includes:
- Where they are in their life…
- How they got there…
- What they're struggling with…
- What they want to see going forward…
- What leads up to the inciting incident of the story…
Writing a journal entry for your key characters helps you get inside their heads and uncover what motivates them or what causes them to inflict so much angst and drama on the people around them.
And this is just the beginning.
I go deeper with the writers in our Addictive Novel Mentorship Program. And if you’re curious about how you can go deeper—writing lovable characters and memorable stories—then book a free strategy session.
If not, then start with this post (and video). Above are four effective tips that help you get deeper into your characters, and it will assist you, even if you are using this as a method of procrastinating.
I'm just saying.
What are some of the things that you do to help develop your characters? Do you have a list? Do you have a profile? Do you have a worksheet? Let’s chat in the comments.