Guest post by Robin P Waldrop
BUILDING CHARACTER PROFILES
There are times when we have a minor character enter a scene and we need to know about them right away. They’re only in the scene a few seconds so we judge them by their physical appearance and the one or two lines they might say, then they’re gone. So we just stereotype them. The tall skinny man waving a newspaper screamed, “Look out!” Or the busty blonde in the tight sweater asked, “Do you have the time?” We are all familiar with these types of characters. We’ve seen them in tiny, but effective doses.
Our main characters have to be much more complex and fleshed out. They need to have complex personalities, complex strengths, hidden pasts, ones they might not even know exist. They have to have endearing qualities so we can bond with them, maybe even sympathize with. Building these types of characters is what makes for a mesmerizing read.
When I decide on the type of character I want, I find a picture that represents how I see them and then I build from there. I use a character sheet and answer some questions, ie…height, weight, build, hair/eye color, where they were born, their age, likes and dislikes. This part is essential. Even if these things are never mentioned in the book the author knows the answers and that’s how they’re able to make a one-dimensional character turn into an intriguing realistic person their readers either fall in love with, or hate more than anything (ie…the antagonist).
There are many ways to build character profiles and every author approaches the subject differently. The bottom line is a good author will not only fool the reader into believing the character is real…they’ll fool themselves into believing it, too.
Thank you so much Robin for that great guest post. We love having you in our Author in the spotlight month!
I love when I read a book and I feel like I know the character and sometimes it really feels like the person is real, like a best friend during the time I spend inside the book with the character. The best books are written in a way that you can really feel the like and dislikes the characters have even though it isn´t exactly written, you still knows it because the author is that good at making the characters to become alive. So Robin I agree with you as an author, a great author, you really need to fool not only us but yourself as well!! This is such a great advise to all aspiring Authors out there!