Come listen to Episode 8 of my podcast, 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. The subject? Character Profiles: Why You Should Create Them + Some Ideas. Transcript and link to the Spotify podcast episode below. The podcast is also on YouTube.
Episode 8, on Spotify: https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/y27N0X9rNAb
This podcast episode is available on YouTube as well. Find it here: https://youtu.be/thrZlglqcIo
Welcome to 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. I’m your host, T.L. Brown, but you can call me Tracy. Let’s get started.
Hey, there. I hope you have been enjoying the episodes of 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author, and I hope you caught last week’s video episode with Jennifer Brasington-Crowley discussing her book Nightmare.
We’ve got more great author interviews coming up. Joanna Monahan will be discussing Something Better, her debut book. Jessica Cantwell will be talking to us in July about her new book coming out called Rebuilding Jennifer. I’m also very excited that Danielle Paquette-Harvey – and I hope I pronounced that correctly – will be joining the show to talk about star ratings on book reviews and educating us on what they really mean so that we can make good decisions when we are rating and reviewing books. And that’s a must-listen episode!
Today we are going to talk about character profiles, and I am very excited about this subject because I think it’s fun. I think creating character profiles, whether it is your main character, your villain, a great sub-character, or even a small character you just want to kind of round out a little bit more so that you can make them more special is essential. You can bring more of their personality to the scene that you’re writing.
I have two different series, and my characters go back and forth between the two. My first series, the Door to Door Mysteries, is more lighthearted. My second series, Bellerose Witchline, is more serious. It’s an adult dark fantasy series. What has been really fun for me is building on a basic character profile starting with height, weight, hair color, eye color, body type, clothing style, home, city or countryside, favorite food, favorite book, favorite movie, favorite songs – you name it! All the basics that you will put into a character profile. Then, taking that as I moved from one series to the other. I looked at my original set of character traits and thought: Okay, it’s a little darker now. So, what else can I add here? What other categories might fit?
You can start with simple things like: well, what makes them angry? That’s a good one. How about this? What would make them hurt someone else? And I’m talking physically. Say you’ve got a good character who is not prone to intentionally hurting anyone, what would drive them to do that? It could come up, and even if it doesn’t in your story, having that element in your mind as you write that character and as you navigate them down a new path will inform you. You will create a richer character for readers to connect with.
You might want to talk about sexuality or sexual experiences, fetishes, behaviors, and fantasies. Once again, you may never share this with your readers, but it’s an element that might inform how they behave.
I have a scene in my first Bellerose Witchline book – called A Thin Witchline Between Love & Hate – and my main character, Lucie, returns home after a not-quite-a-happy time at a gala event. She’s all dressed up to the nines, and her friend Rabbit stops by. She notices him checking her out. He tells her that she looks nice. She’s standing there in her stocking feet, of course. But she sees his eyes look at her shoes, and he doesn’t say anything. She laughs, puts on the shoes, and gives a twirl. And you know, he gives her a compliment. But that scene was actually driven by a character profile.
I am fortunate enough to have a husband who will go back and forth and bounce ideas off one another with me. And we talked about my character Rabbit, and how he’s always with a certain grittier type of demographic, if you will. People who get their hands dirty. It’s a little harder labor life; it’s not all dressed up and fine dining. Here he’s having a little “hmm, well, I kind of like looking at her because that’s pretty and different” moment. That’s what informed that scene. I hope this is an example that is good for you.
Character profile traits like this can be something that you develop more fully and share with your readers. I have a section of my website with some character profiles, but they’re not as extensive as the private character profiles I have. Once again, that is something that you can market out to your readers, and they will love learning more about your characters.
Perhaps it never comes up in your story that they are the oldest child, and it really took a toll on them. For whatever reason, they were never good enough for a certain parent or something like that. Once again, it gives your readers something to more fully see your characters as they read them – and know them and fall for them.
Think about it. Think about the characters you like. They’re the characters that are more fully developed.
What other categories might you choose to put on a character? Beyond the basics that you might already be using, has your character ever been arrested? Do they have a criminal record? Even if they don’t in the book you’re writing, is there something from their past that might never come up that would explain why they might shy away from doing certain things or being with certain people?
Do they have a favorite cologne? Is it an expensive one? Is there a smell that they can’t stand?
How about a musical instrument? Do they play one? Maybe they never do in the story, but I think of somebody who might’ve been a drummer or used to drum when they were younger. Now they’re always tapping their hands and bouncing their knees. Once again, this character profile can help inform you to better describe the characters in your stories so that readers can connect with them.
Do they have a favorite vacation spot? Are they a member of an organization or an association?
Do they eat dinner standing up in the kitchen? Or do they sit down and eat? Do they do take out mostly? Do they like restaurants? Do they like to cook? What’s their favorite food?
How about something as detailed as: do they offer people a bite of their own food? I look at someone like Rabbit, who would certainly offer a bite. So would Emily and Lucie. Templeton? Not so much. He’s not going to offer someone a bite off his plate – if he even eats in front of anyone.
You can go on in more detail about anything you can think of – look around your house. Look at what you drive by. How would your character interact with “that object in that place”? These are all things to consider, even if you never share them with your reader. I know I’ve said that over and over, but I’m driving that point home. It is for you to write a better story with more fully rounded, rich, and engaging characters. And you can. Do it.
If you want some ideas, you know where to find me. I’m often on Instagram, or you can go to my website at writertracybrown.com and ping me. Ask me, what are my categories? I might tell you the categories, but I’m certainly not going to tell you every character’s pieces and parts that are described.
So, what do you think? Tell me in a podcast comment or a video. Comment below, and I might share your answers in a future episode.
Thanks for listening, everyone, and I will see you in the next episode.
This has been 12 Minutes (or less!) with the Author. Thanks for listening to today’s episode. Hope you can join me for the next one. Until then, this is Tracy, AKA author T.L. Brown, signing off.