STEP THREE: STAFF MEETING
As a teacher, I’m often FORCED to attend staff meetings where a wide variety of characters come together and accomplish very little. You need to have a staff meeting for your novel, too, but the difference is, you need to accomplish a great deal in yours. It’s a challenge, but it’s worth it.
First, it’s important to understand that YOU must know much more about your characters than your readers do. You’re going to create histories and backstories for them, and the better they are, the more they will help you know exactly what your characters will do in any situation.
Now if you go to the internet and type in “character profile” you’ll find MANY examples of things to think about when you’re fleshing out your characters. What I have found, through practice, is that you need to do character profiles for AT LEAST your protagonist and antagonist—your main character and that character’s main opposition. You DON’T need to do these profiles for every character, especially minor ones, or you may actually find them competing for attention with your main characters…not a good thing.
That said, I’m going to give you MORE than enough to think about. Don’t feel compelled to fill out every section if you don’t want to. Use what’s most appropriate for your particular character, qualities you feel are important.
Remember that this work can be done point form—it’s for you to see and nobody else. It is particularly helpful if you’re planning a book that may become a series!
CHARACTER PROFILE IDEAS:
- Name, age, nationality
- Is there a difference between how old the person IS, and how old he or she appears to be?
- Hair colour, eye colour (glasses or contacts?), height, weight, type of build
- Skin type, tone, distinguishing marks (moles, tattoos, scars . . .)
- Shape of face (round, oval, squared, almond, heart-shaped…)
- Usual hairstyle? Usual style of dress?
- Predominant features?
- Any physical habits or disabilities? (Constantly pacing, stuttering, …)
- Favourite sayings?
- Birth order?
- Siblings? Spouse? Children? Parents? Grandparents? Best friend? Significant other?
- Relationship skills?
- Socioeconomic level as a child / as an adult
- Hometown / current residence
- Level of education, overall intelligence
- Mental illnesses?
- Major learning experiences in life
- Short-term and long-term goals?
- How the character feels others view her. How she views herself.
- Is the character ruled more by left-brain logic, or right-brain emotions and creativity?
- What would most embarrass this character?
- What is this character proudest of?
- Strengths and weaknesses?
- Introvert or extrovert?
- Judgmental or generous?
- Polite or rude?
- How does the character deal with anger? Sadness? Conflict? Change? Loss?
- What would the character most like to change? Why?
- Religious beliefs? Religious? Agnostic? Atheistic?
- Personal philosophy, beliefs?
- Attitude towards nature, animals, environment, others?
- Colors? Music? Literature? Food? Swear words?
- Means of transportation?
- Activities to do alone? With others?
- Bad habits: brand of cigarettes, alcoholic drink, non-alcoholic drink?
- Hobbies? Sports? TV shows? Web sites?
OK, enough of that. You get the idea. Feel free to delete groupings, add groupings, change groupings to make them fit your particular characters. The main idea is that you know your characters THOROUGHLY before you begin to tell their tales.
Now go flesh out a few of your characters and get ready for step four, which I’ll post on Saturday, three days from now. That’s when we’ll connect your characters to your story a bit more directly.