Grab your free Character Profile Worksheet at the end of this post.
When writing fiction, it’s important to have a clear picture of what your characters look like. You'll also need to invent their inner and outer conflicts and desires, emotional makeup, social connections, and other specifics, but figuring our their physical characteristics is a good place to start.
Knowing what each character looks like is important so you can:
Refer to them consistently: You don’t want Brad to be a brunette on page 4 and a blond on page 40.
Make sure their physical qualities make sense in the larger plot: You don’t want Brenda to have seven missing toes from an old fishing accident on page 4 and then be an expert ballerina balancing on toe shoes on page 40.
Thank goodness there’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help. If you need inspiration for your characters' looks, check out the website This Person Does Not Exist. Every time you refresh the page, the AI will create a realistic-ish portrait of a person who, as the title suggests, does not exist in real life. Just keep refreshing until you find one you like to inspire your character.
Sometimes you find wannabe characters that look like people you would actually write about.
For instance, this guy could be your handsome protagonist, right?
Maybe he could even have her as his love interest?
And this guy could certainly be a supporting character, don't you think?
But sometimes the AI doesn't get it quite right, and the results are creepy, to say the least. For instance, occasionally it takes the top half of a child’s face and pastes to the lower half of an obvious adult like this:
Or it won’t get the teeth quite right.
And every once in a while it doesn’t get the eyes quite right.
And then there’s whatever this is. Maybe it would fit in your science fiction tragedy? Some multiverse teleportation accident must have caused this.
And there's some sort of alien appendage growing off this poor creature's face.
You can tell I got a big kick out of this. I also really enjoyed its sister site, called This Cat Does Not Exist. Let’s just say this AI is not quite as well-trained yet. If you really want to have some fun, I suggest you check that out. In the mean time, here you go…
This cat looks almost real cat-like.
And . . . uh . . .
I may have a laugh about it here, but the technology is really quite remarkable. Artificial Intelligence will surely be our overlords soon.
Whether you use your old-fashion imagination to come up with your characters' physical attributes or AI, you'll need to brainstorm the rest of their details, such as their strengths and weaknesses, their tics and habits, and background details like their job, education, and political and religious affiliations.
You likely won't (and shouldn't) tell your readers about all of these characteristics, but they are good for you to know. Why? When you have a full picture of what your characters are like, you will have a better understanding of how they will act and respond in all of the scenes and situations you put them in.
To help you, I have created a free character profile worksheet that will assist you in your character creation. Simply click this link to access the download: worksheet.
DID YOU KNOW: In addition to book editing, I now offer author coaching? I have several coaching packages to help you organize and outline your story, have an accountability partner to help you finish your manuscript, and help you set up the entrepreneur side of your author-entrepreneur business. Click here to learn more: author coaching.
Erin Servais is a book editor and author coach with more than a decade of experience in the publishing world. To learn more about how she can use her positive-minded, collaborative techniques to help you reach your writing goals, email her now at: Erin@dotanddashllc.com.