Run a Google search for “character profiles” and you’ll pull-up lot’s of character worksheets and questionnaires. Some of them are really basic, asking your character’s favorite color or if he ever had a pet. Others delve into character background – sometimes tracing steps all the way back to the character’s immigrant great, great grandparents.
But what if we took a real world approach to character profiles?
Stay with me, as this may sound crazy — but dating websites are designed to ask questions that allow other people to really get to know you. They’re geared toward real people, and you want your characters to be as real as possible. So, what if you turn the profile around and answer questions in the head of your protagonist (or antagonist or love interest or whoever). You’ll really get to know that character, and probably discover some new, surprising things in the process.
Here are some sample questions from an eHarmony profile:
- Other than appearance, what is the first thing that people notice about you?
- What are your three BEST life skills?
- Four things your friends say you are…
- What are five things you “can’t live without?”
- What are you most passionate about?
- What are three things for which you are most thankful?
- What is the ONE thing that people DON’T notice about you right away that you WISH they WOULD?
These questions (and many more found in a good dating questionnaire) go beyond the basic height, weight and hair color descriptions found on generic character profiles, and really ask for a deeper-level understanding. Spend time thinking about the answers and it will directly influence your writing of character reactions and dialog. It will also subtly weave descriptions and imagery that lead your reader to say, “That character was soooooo real!”
Looking for more info? Check out these articles:
- The 45 best speed dating questions you can ask a prospective date?
- eHarmony’s Online Dating 101: Profile
- Gotham Writer’s Character Questionnaire