Sunday, February 21, 2010

Character Building

A short post about something of substance (sort of) while dinner is in the oven.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, and I'm crossing my fingers that it will be, because I need to get out of this non-writing funk and get some words on paper! Nothing helps me do that like a nice, gloomy rain day!

But just in case it doesn't rain sufficiently, I'm giving myself an exercise to do tomorrow on building character background--that being, I'm going to do it.

At one point in time, I had a multi-page, ridiculously in-depth character profile worksheet that I actually filled out for a few characters. It took forever, but it also made me think about those characters in a different light, situations I may not have otherwise put them in.

Thought I might try that approach again. I'm not one for in-depth anything, really--I write a page long description, maybe, including goals related to the plot, and that's usually enough for me. I make additions to the page as new traits emerge. World-building is a similar issue.

Weakness in style? Maybe. I am of the "seat of the pants" school, so it shouldn't be surprising.
But a bit of discipline is good for everyone, right?

How about y'all? Do you use character profiles, and if so, care to share any good formats?

These are the three I'm going to cobble together:


Unknown said...

I've never used a character sheet or character building exercise but I love the three links you provided! I think it will give me a chance to really get more developed with my characters!!!

Kimberly Franklin said...

Never used them. I've tried, but it appears I'm a "seat of the pants" type of person too. Good luck! I hope it works for you. : )

Shelley Sly said...

I've made up my own character profiles before, just filled with all the basic information I could come up with. I also modeled profiles after social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace) as it helps to build characters once you think about what they would display to the public.

But the most success I've had with character building is just by writing and letting them reveal themselves to me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I use a basic, one page character sheet. Any more and my head would hurt!

kah said...

I fly by the seat of my pants too. No character profiles yet but I should prob try it. Hope it rains for you!

Summer Frey said...

Thanks, Karen! I'm hoping so too. :-)

Jen, let me know if they work out for you.

Shelley, that's a great idea to model after the social networking sites!

Dread Pirate Lainey said...

I am of the opposite school of "waaaaay too much planning, character profiles, and world developement" so I am trying more writing by the seat of my pants.

Anyways I still do character profiles, but I realized I have changed what I included and don't really follow a set character sheet.

I used to just pick arbitrary facts about the characters without connecting them to anything in the story, or anything at all for that matter. Now, my character profiles tend to be situational: what in that character's past informs the present? That way it helps develop the personality of the character and lets you know how they would react to situations wether they are in your novel or not. [I hope that makes sense!] I have notebooks full of notes on situations the characters in my stories have been through that include everything from a confrontation with a grade school teacher to surviving a horrific battle and everything in between. I love character development because it's like sitting down with a cup of coffee with someone and getting to know them, their history and personality.

I also have this great book called "What Would Your Character Do?" Which are personality quizzes that can help analyze how characters would act in certain situations thus giving clues to their personalities. You are welcome to borrow it sometime if it would be helpful.

Dread Pirate Lainey said...

I've also got some great things for world building too, if you want them!

Lisa Schlegel said...

I'm trying a new approach in creating an outline that contains character goals, desires, internal conflicts, etc, as part of the outline. In fact, I've outlined each plot and subplot based on the character it centers around. This has helped flesh the character out. If background or 'off camera' information is important, I note it separately. Organization is good, and a new approach for me.