My favorite thing whenever it comes to writing is sketching out the character until it comes to life and can finish creating itself. Have you ever had that happen? You’re happily writing along until a character makes you backspace a few words and gives you a few new verbs so that they can act according to their personality, or maybe they pack in a few more adjectives so that you can describe them the way they would prefer to be described. Even in dialogue, sometimes you can see your female character pop a hip out to the side, cross her arms in front of her chest, and ask you, “Would I really say that?” Sometimes as writers we raise our characters, argue with our characters, and fall in love them. Before all that happens, though, we must first give birth to them.
I imagine the process of us giving birth to characters is very similar to how Athena actually gave birth to her children. We think them up, design them in a very specific way, and soon enough there it is going on adventures and fighting dragons, and it isn’t long until they’re doing that without our assistance. One day we’ll wake up from a long coffee induced night of writing and find a complete manuscript staring at us from whatever word processor we’re using. So where does this imagining process start? How does it begin?
For me, it starts here:
Every character must start with a name. And so this list continues until sketched out before me is a person about ready to step off the page. All that’s left is teaching this new character how to walk. Here is what a complete character profile looks like for me:
Earth Name: Beatrice Glasser
Other Name: Averice Glasser
Nickname: B and Ave (probably Rice when she’s being teased.)
Eye color: Stormy blue-gray (sapphire blue eyes)
Hair color/style: Strawberry blonde hair cut in a neat bob, with permed curls that rest neatly along her neck and around her ears. (Long, curly white hair, with lowlights so that it is not completely bleach blonde.)
Height: 5’ 7”
Build: She is tall and lithe from running. She is not overly muscular since she prefers cardio more than weightlifting. Her shoulders are rounded forward slightly from sitting hunched over her computer or sitting on the floor reading. She has the most spectacular legs with curves to die for and small ankles and feet. (Still tall, but a more narrow than straight waist, and more of a muscular build than just being lithe.)
Clothes: Imagine every K-Pop artist. She mixes and matches various styles. Probably one of her favorite outfits is her ripped, boyfriend jeans paired with blacks heels. She will wear either her green or red and black plaid flowing tank top with either a short sleeved, long jacket or a colorful kimono over the top. (Black lace up boots, that go to the knee, black and white striped leggings, and a lacy, high-low, black skirt. To literally pull everything together is a full torso, black corset clasped in the front. As a separate piece, she has flowing, lacy, black sleeves that tie in front of her neck.)
Profession: She is currently a student attending ________ going for a degree in Creative Writing, and possibly thinking about getting a masters or doctorate in linguistics.
Characteristics: Averice is bubbly and witty with a dry sense of humour. She smiles a lot and loves people. Although, behind all of that she struggles a lot with self confidence and pride.
Residence: Xi Nu Theta (At school) Her house is in Michigan.
Extrovert or Introvert: Ambivert. She loves people, but she definitely gets her fill of them. She recharges from being alone, and honestly loves curling up with a book than with a person.
Hobby: Reading; watching T.V.; updating her blog on the rare occasion she remembers; learning languages in her rare spare time.
Favorite activity: Running. She could run for days, but classes and social situations normally demand her attention.
Favorite Meal: French Toast or any Asian meal, but normally French Toast.
Favorite Season: That middle moment in between Winter and Spring when the snow is melting and everything is muddy, and there is that slight smell of rain water and slushy snow in the Meijer parking lot, but there are also shoots of grass popping up, and Robins start appearing everywhere.
Darkest thought: Maybe if I took like eight of these Benadryl I wouldn’t have to wake up for a few days. No more people.
Deepest secret: HELLA GAY. Nah, not really. She loved a man once, but things got ugly, and now she hates love. Unless it’s on other people.
Friends: Taryn (Tarence) and a bunch of other useless acquaintances.
Mortal enemies: That stupid cat.
Achilles heel: She wears her heart on her sleeves and trusts everyone she meets.
Goal: Find the cat and graduate with a degree. Possibly survive.
The profile is always different depending on the project. Sometimes I take away some of the questions and sometimes I add more. It depends on how detailed or how basic I want my character to be. For example, all my characters don’t have two names. This character does because she goes between two different worlds.
An empty character sheet looks like this:
Extrovert or Introvert:
Please feel free to copy it, or go to this google doc. I want to share this with as many people as possible.
Creating characters is one of my favorite things and this is how I do it.
Are there any other methods that you use? I would love to hear them! I would also love to see what types of character you’ve created! Comment below or shoot me an e-mail, and let’s get some dialogue going.
Keep writing! You can complete the story inside of you. 加油！