Character questionnaires can go beyond physical description and help you think about facets of your character’s personality that you had not considered before. Character profiles are also helpful for novels that are part of a series, novels which involve several main characters and for stories which use multiple points of view. A writer can create convincing characters by giving him/her a specific motivation or desire. As the character goes after their goals and struggles with their inner motivations, they begin to resemble a real person. The way you choose to reveal your characters varies, such as outward appearances, thoughts, feelings and actions or another character’s thoughts, actions and feelings about that character.
Here are some questions I used to flesh out my characters in my urban fantasy series, The Children of Ekhidna and Typhoeus.
Character Bio: Natalie Richards
Supernatural or Human: Supernatural / Primordial race, Hydra
General physical description: Red hair, green eyes, Anglo, pale skin with light brown freckles, large breasts, thin waist
Relationship status: Single
Current family: Tina (Mother), Senator Davis (Uncle)
Family background (parents, previous marriages, etc.): Father and brother
Job: Chef and caterer
Favorite pastimes: gardening, going to parties
Hobbies: cooking & baking
Favorite foods: green beans
Strongest positive personality trait: forgiving
Strongest negative personality trait: weak, gives up easily
Sense of humor: Wacky, silly
Temper: sometimes childish
Did she have a happy childhood? Why/why not? No, she was an outsider & bullied in school. Her parents are of different castes – Mom is Sphinx while Dad is Hydra. Tina wanted Natalie in with the high caste and put her in those schools & social circles. Tina was unaware how bad the high caste kids bullied, ridiculed & terrorized Natalie. Natalie failed at school & acted out. Her parents slowly gave up on her. Her brother didn’t face the same pressure because he was born a Sphinx like their mother.
What does she care about? Getting high
What is she obsessed with? Drug Alchemy
Biggest fear? Facing her parents’ disappointment, rehab
What is the best thing that ever happened to her? The worst? Best – graduating from culinary school, getting sober; Worst – falling off the wagon, getting hooked on drug alchemy
Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to her?: Had sex for drugs
Biggest secret?: Has thoughts of suicide
What is the one word you would use to define her?: lonely
How other people see her: loser, waste of potential, slut
Opinion of herself: slut, loser
Other traits, especially those to be brought out in story: She wants to change her life & get sober again
Ambitions: Be a chef at a 5-star restaurant
Philosophy of life: Just do whatever, people will be mad at you no matter what you do
Most important thing to know about this character: She is currently abusing drug alchemy, stealing and partying hard
Fondest memory: playing with her dog in the park by her old family house
Special skills/abilities: She has thousands of recipes memorized
Things that make her happy: cooking, poking fun at her brother and his friends
Things that embarrass her: Selling her grandmother’s jewelry & handbags for drugs
Favorite bands/songs/type of music: Rap & Pop music, Everything Madonna and Eminem
Favorite movies: Julie & Julia, Tortilla Soup, the Percy Jackson & Harry Potter movies
Favorite TV shows: Xena Warrior Princess, Stargate Atlantis, Iron Chef America
Worst thing that has ever happened to this character: Trying air drug alchemy in her teens then getting hooked on clay alchemy in her twenties
What is on her bedroom floor?: Bits of dried clay stuck on the carpet, lots of dirt covered clothes (dresses and miniskirts), vomit.
What’s on her nightstand?: tubes of cherry red lipstick, energy drinks and chocolate bars
What’s in her garbage can?: business cards
Look at your characters feet. Describe what you see there: cotton candy pink painted toenails
What disgusts them?: chewing gum
This profile is based on Natalie in book one, Hound Dog Confidential. We first meet her in chapter one.
“Let’s face it, characters are the bedrock of your fiction. Plot is just a series of actions that happen in a sequence, and without someone to either perpetrate or suffer the consequences of those actions, you have no one for your reader to root for, or wish bad things on.” — Icy Sedgwick, He Was A Man Of Good Character
“Even if you find the bad guy generally repulsive, you need to be able to put yourself so thoroughly into his shoes while you’re writing him that, just for those moments, you almost believe his slant yourself.” — K.M. Weiland, Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT!
“Think of your character as a jewel that has about a thousand different facets. If you keep turning them over and exploring new sides, you’ll keep discovering new information about their personality and motivations. And there’s always another way to turn things. There’s always another side to explore.” — Lauren Sapala, Peel Back the Mask of Your Protagonist
Hope you found this week’s post helpful. You can read the first chapters of my urban fantasy series The Children of Ekhidna and Typhoeus on the books page.
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