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Sinann of Erin's avatar

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Everyone writes character profiles differently. But whether you write interviews with the characters or list caterogires that or filled in (or any number of other things), there are some things that have to be included. I do different things for every work, but generally include strengths, weakness, hobbies, appearance, religious and philispohical belief, and general demeanor.

What do you find important to include?
There's a big topic floating around about this.

http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/writers/how-to-perfect-this-character-sheet/t.61019673/?_gaia_t_=3934

If I was going to do one of these, I'd put the bare minimal and use it mostly for making notes about important things that might come up later.
Mortok's avatar

Tipsy Exhibitionist

For me, it depends. One of my projects is a straight-forward quest story, so it's pretty basic stuff: Name, age, physical appearance, skills, short background sumary (why are they on this quest? What do they want? Why do they want it? Any useful dramatic information that might come up later).

One of my other projects is world-building for a superhero comic serial with an ensemble cast and a lot of recurring villains/side characters, so I have extra categories like "special abilities", "limitations", "costume details", "relationships", etc...

Basically, I write as much information as I think is required to keep the story and characters consistent, depending on the sort of project it is.

Character sheets are just a jumping-off point for me. I plot out the character's backstory, to help me understand where they are currently, but I do not plot out their future development, although I usually have a basic idea of the general direction I'm heading towards.
Sometimes I put in physical appearance for main characters but only if I haven't drawn them yet. I do it a lot for minor characters since they aren't a memorable. My basic profile would contain names (alternate names if they have them), age, personality, powers/skills, back story, notes. Notes are for very minor things or defining features that I may forget, like if they dislike a particular food and it comes up somewhere or if they have a small scar that's shown later. Basically, I use profiles to write down information I don't want to forget about characters so they'll stay consistent.
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I like them to be very indepth for main characters but simple for lesser characters. What my main character's favourite meal is is more important to know then the postman's he may encounter once.
I_Write_Ivre's avatar

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Sir Icehawk
There's a big topic floating around about this.

http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/writers/how-to-perfect-this-character-sheet/t.61019673/?_gaia_t_=3934

If I was going to do one of these, I'd put the bare minimal and use it mostly for making notes about important things that might come up later.


Whoa, thanks for pimping that for me. heart

OP: You don't need a lot to make a character. You don't even need a backstory or a physicval appearance. You need a reason to have the character in the story, a reason for them to give a damn and perform their role.

The sheet includes other necessary things, but its for developing the character within the story, not advertising or getting pictures (neither of which are writing the story, and make the sheet pointless).
Sinabelle's avatar

Sparkly Prophet

Sinann of Erin
there are some things that have to be included.


No. There are not. I don't make character profiles at all and I get along just fine.
I don't make character profiles either. The closest I get is a short log containing specific figures that I need to make sure everything is consistent throughout the story (number of troops, age of characters, location of neighboring kingdoms, size of city, etc.).

Just remember, no one is going to read your character profile, ever.
TottWriter's avatar

Friendly Hoarder

I start making character profiles when my cast list for recurring characters in a series (I've yet to reach this threshold in a single book) reaches 30 or so. Beyond that point, yes, it's a good idea to keep track of who has what colour eyes and hair, and how old they will be by a certain point in the plot.

I tend to write my character sheets as a database, where I can search for the character and have their stats laid out for me in an accessible fashion. So, basic appearance details along with aliases, age, and major events that have happened to them, all of which help jog my memory about that character when I return to them after a long gap. Keeping note of close friends/rivals is sometimes relevant, sometimes not. I may note down basics about their personality, but usually I remember that stuff, or my memory of it comes back reading through their backstory - which can be quite long for characters that have been in the whole series, but is very brief for those who have not.
Sinann of Erin's avatar

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Sinabelle
Sinann of Erin
there are some things that have to be included.


No. There are not. I don't make character profiles at all and I get along just fine.


I don't usually, either. I meant generally if you made them. And even if you don't write them out on paper, you probably have some version of one in your head.
Sinann of Erin's avatar

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Cogent Dream
I don't make character profiles either. The closest I get is a short log containing specific figures that I need to make sure everything is consistent throughout the story (number of troops, age of characters, location of neighboring kingdoms, size of city, etc.).

Just remember, no one is going to read your character profile, ever.


I know. That's pretty much what I use it for (and why I include appearance, because I can never figure out what they look like. Making something up and having something to reference later is nice.)
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Sinann of Erin
Cogent Dream
I don't make character profiles either. The closest I get is a short log containing specific figures that I need to make sure everything is consistent throughout the story (number of troops, age of characters, location of neighboring kingdoms, size of city, etc.).

Just remember, no one is going to read your character profile, ever.


I know. That's pretty much what I use it for (and why I include appearance, because I can never figure out what they look like. Making something up and having something to reference later is nice.)


Oh, definitely. i keep them around because I come back to stories much later and I share them with artists.
phantomkitsune's avatar

Dangerous Enabler

My initial reaction was that I don't use character sheets. Then I realized that I do - many of my projects have a single master spreadsheet for keeping everything straight. I have rather a lot of projects running semi-concurrently, and so they sometimes go a while without being updated. I also have some things that I want to make a point of working in that I wouldn't remember unless I made note of it. And for collaborations, a spreadsheet is invaluable for keeping some details straight.

The three spreadsheets with character data on them have headings that look like this:

Name
hobby/occupation
age
some other characteristic (one of which is simply 'pancakes')
appearance (the only one filled out is 'short round brunette')
area of chicago they live in

and

Name
Element (there are some thematic elements with the chinese elements, which go here)
Role (five-man-band trope role)
Career
Age
Notes (they are incredibly verbose. one has a whole 10 words in it)

The third simply tracks familial relations, as it's multi-generational and has a large cast.

Basically, my character spreadsheets include things not important enough to remember that I would still like to get consistently right. They include no personality traits: I should know those before I start writing. The only appearance notes I make are in a collaboration, where we may have different ideas of what they look like and write blocking differently because of it.
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phantomkitsune
They include no personality traitsquote]

Why? Personality is what defines the characters and the other traits.

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