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What is an easy way to create a detailed character profile for a short story? I'm new to this Stack Exchange, and need help creating an organized character profile, with the information I have on my character.

  • The answers below show you how to do it in an easy way but I was wondering why you need an easy way. – user6035379 Nov 27 '16 at 11:27
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    @user6035379 Well, you could write it in Sanskrit using coal on the back of a shovel while riding a unicycle and singing "We Didn't Start the Fire," but that's probably better suited for developing a novel series than a short story. – Lauren Ipsum Nov 27 '16 at 14:18
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One of the best ways I ever saw was with those for-entertainment-only personality quizzes; such as "What Disney Princess/Prince are you?" or "What's your Myer's Brigg's personality designation." Usually, these quizzes have about 20 questions associated with them, so they don't take that long. The key is to answer each question as your character would. This will result in a tidy character description that reflects the internal workings of the person. For appearance, simply pull a pic from online, or a magazine. For family/friend/occupation, add this information as necessary for the story, and to give you, the writer, the sense your character is a complete person.

Lastly, identify all the conflicts in this characters life. Spend a little time on this and try to be original. Perhaps his boss is his best friend, but he's uncomfortable with his landlady because she's always hitting on him. Whatever conflicts he has (even separate from the major one the story is about), these are what will serve to bring your character to life.

  • I do the Myer's Brigg's personality quizzes for all of my characters, it really helps! – EmmieCG May 4 '18 at 20:01
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There's no One Correct Way. You can have a list of attributes as if you were creating a D&D character. You can jot down notes so you have guidance for the important parts of your story. You can use one of the email or tumblr questionnaires which circulate from time to time and answer it from the perspective of your character.

Essentially, a profile is whatever helps you to create your character as a rounded, living person in your head so you can figure out what that person would do and say. The form of that is whatever works for you.

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Consider the essential things you need to know about that person in the way they look, what they do currently, and what drives them. Create a dossier of those things.

Do this for every major character.

Then, start writing. And watch how much of the stuff you wrote down changes.

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I create an Excel file where each column is a character and each row is a character trait. It looks something like this:

           John                       Bob
age        14                         53
occupation pupil                      retired astronaut
           wants to be an astronaut
lives      with his mom and sister    alone
develop.   misses his dad, depressed; misses his wife, suicidal;
           sees the sadness in Bob;   compassion for sad little John;
           sets his mom on Bob =>     takes care of John =>
           finds purpose              finds new meaning in being
           in learning astrophysics;  Bob's replacement father;
           ...                        slowly accepts the love;
                                      John's mom offers him

What you put in there will depend on what story you write.

I like to use a spreadsheet program for this, because I can add in rows wherever I want them and move both columns and rows around as I like. The organization in rows and columns gives me a clear comparison between characters and helps me to make them distinct from each other or relate them to each other.

I also create development rows to show how the development of different characters relates to each other, that is, how the development of one character during the story is an "answer" to the development of another character. I quickly made up an example above to show the idea; it is a bit more refined in a real characters file.

Do not forget backstory. Personally, I don't go very far with backstory. I don't write the interviews or short narrative pieces that are often recommended to discover a character's backstory. I find that that puts the wrong focus and makes me want to write more backstory into the story than is good for that story. Therefore, I only develop the backstory as far as it is relevant to my story, the rest I leave intentionally blank.

This Excel file is something I keep on working on while I develop and then write the story, always changing, adding, or deleting things as my conception of my characters changes in the process of writing.

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Well, first off it depends on what your genre is. You will always have a genre with a short story, or any story. So if its along the line of romance, or love, you want to have some intake on past relationships, mention a name or two. Or put in some info about the character that would motivate to the plot. If its just a narrative, with a plot, not so much with a certain genre of fantasy, or myth, or realistic fiction, then the character development will be a lot easier. So name his/her name obviously. Not so much appearances, because, as well as the reader will want to imagine the character, the reader wants some information to help your story balance. But if your story is set on how the chracter looks, than its a good idea to mention it. Then use starter phrases such as, "I am a very ... person." If its in first person or, "SoandSo does ... for this reason." Make sure it's efficient for your story. I hope this helps in anyway. I am still learning the basics in writing myself.

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