Characterization is the most important aspect of writing a book. Whether it’s a short story or a long one, you need characters, and that too strong ones. They are the building blocks of your story as they provide substance and an extra dimension to it.
Many people believe that in certain genres, such as mystery-thriller, romance and horror, the story is the main hero and not the characters, and therefore it’s okay to have even half-decent characters to play along when it comes to writing in these genres. But being a thriller writer myself, I think that it is totally wrong.
Whether it’s thriller, mystery, horror or even romance, you need strong characters to add depth to your story. And if you want to write a memorable book then characters are indeed as important to your story as the plot itself, irrespective of the genre.
I’d like to state a few examples here to clear this myth:
Agatha Christie’s characters – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, are the two most memorable and strongest characters in the world of mystery books. If you’ve read even 2 books of each then you know what I mean.
In the same way Nicholas Sparks, the king of romance books, creates such memorable characters that the readers fall in love with them and remembers them forever, such as Noah from The Notebook and John from Dear John.
And the biggest example is that of the most epic characters of all, Harry Potter from Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.
So the bottom line is a writer should try their best to put in 100% in terms of handwork and research when it comes to characterisation. And in doing so, one amazing tool that helps tremendously is Character Profile Sheet.
Character Profile Sheets are exactly what the name suggests. They are simple worksheets which help you to create detailed and distinct personalities for your characters. They can be as short as a single page or as long as 50 pages. The basic idea is to help you create your characters and give them a solid form.
Here are the character sheets that I’m using for my second book, Sinister Town:
Character Profile Sheets (CPS) dramatically helps in organising the important facts about your characters at a later stage in your project. When I was working on Deceived, I had 3-4 timelines to maintain and 5 complex characters to remember. The CPS I prepared for all the characters and timelines proved to be a lifesaver. If it wouldn’t have been for these sheets I would have been still writing the first draft for it.
Being a hardcore planner, maintaining CPS is like a second nature. I can’t even think of starting a book without having them with me. But if you are a pantster and hate having to write them in advance, I’d still suggest you to create at least a basic or just a fact-based CPS for the 2 main characters (again, at least.) It won’t hurt to have all the facts about your character in one place to make sure that there are no consistency issues in your book.
CPS are a must but having said that I’d also like to say that a character’s complete personality is not formulated. So allow some time for your characters to grow. It’s not necessary to stick only to the CPS, improvisation is necessary as well as beneficial because you can’t know fully about a character unless you start writing the book. So, BE FLEXIBLE.
You can create your own CPS or download from the ones listed below. If you want more you can get thousands (and maybe more) from the net, but if you’d ask me, 2 are more than enough.
These are the ones that I hand picked:
Some really helpful CPS Resources:
- Character Worksheet by Tara K. Harper
- Character Profile Sheet by Panix
- Big-Ass Character Sheet by Character Resource
- Character Sheet by Chugs Boson [Deviant Art] – 370+ points.
- Character Sheet by Writer’s Side
- Character Sheet by Bakewell Green Festival
- Character Sheet by Creative Writing Now – This is what I use in the preliminary stage (FD stage.)
- Basic Character Sheet by Writers Write
- A really good Character Sheet by source unknown
- Character Chart by Seven Seasons Stories
Other stuff related to Character Development:
- Character Perceptions Chart by Character Resource [Deviant Art]
- Generic Background Questionaire by Angel Fire
- 54 Conflicts Sheet by Seven Seasons Stories
What are your experiences with CPS? You love them like me or it’s something that you don’t like? Feel free to share your views in the comments below.
Have a great day!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Note: All views and opinions shared in this post are my own.