I relate best to people.

When reading a story, I easily slip into the main character’s shoes. Every emotion, every experience, I feel as if my own. When they cry, I cry. When they feel love or joy, my heart nearly bursts (okay, not really, but I swear it feels like it sometimes!). I enjoy a well-written plot as much as the next book lover, but well-written characters… they are the substance and life of any piece of literature.

(Yes, I am one of those readers that have book crushes. C’mon. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice? Are you kidding me? *swoon*)

Writing a story is really no different. The art of creating a character, of fleshing out every tiny detail that makes a well-rounded, three-dimensional protagonist or antagonist — that’s what I love best. And, it’s one of THE most important steps! (And you should listen to me, because I am smart, and I know all.)

The best characters, to me, are multi-faceted and compelling. They have depth. They act unpredictably and keep us guessing at each page turn. Take a moment and think about a character, your favorite character in all of characterdom (is that a word? No? Well, it is now!). Now think about all the things you love above that character.

I’ll wait.

Done? Okay. So, if you took a moment to think about it, I bet you’ll have noticed just how complex that character is. When you flesh out a character, they become more real. Otherwise, they turn into an archetype, or a cartoon version of themselves. They don’t seem real. And if they don’t seem real, readers probably won’t relate to them.

The thing is, writing a multi-dimensional character isn’t as hard as it sounds. Many times a character comes to me before I have even an inkling of a story. They speak to me and all I have to do is put pen to paper – they do all the work. Other times require a bit more… diligence on my part, but as long as I’m not staring at a blank page, the pieces start to come together without too much thought.

So, to avoid the dreaded blank-page fear that many of us creative types harbor, I like to write up a character profile (I’m a geek like that. I like lists and things.) At the very MINIMUM I will jot down the following:

  • Physical attributes
  • Personality traits
  • Brief history / back story

To help my fellow writers (or artists, because a character profile can be a just as great a tool for drawing a series or illustrating a story!), I am offering a character profile sheet for download.

Click here to view and download a copy. I hope that it helps in your character creation adventures!

Also, I would love to hear your thoughts. What do YOU do to flesh out a character for a story or art series? Let me know in the comments!