Young Writers Society

Home » Storybooks Main » Storybook Discussion » General Storybook Discussion

A Storybooker's Guide Through the Character Profiles



User avatar
117 Reviews



Gender: Other
Points: 4007
Reviews: 117
Sun May 26, 2013 1:57 pm
View Likes
ChildOfNowhere says...



Hello, all.

Since I'll be using them in the rest of this post, hereby I give you a short list of abbreviations, just in case c:
Spoiler! :
SB - naturally, Storybook
SBing/SBer(s) - Storybooking (verb, writing in Storybooks)/Storybookers (people who do the SBing)
CP - character profile
PT - profile template
OOC - out of character

*


When it comes to Storybooks, there are a couple of components a person must think about. There's the idea itself, the plot-- and of course, the characters. Without them, the story wouldn't progress. Without them, nothing would really make sense, would it?
From my own experience, I can tell that the characters are what makes the SBs really interesting, and participating in various Storybooks can really do wonders to a person's characterization skills.

In majority of SBs, you will find a character template - a form to fill in with (more or less basic) information about your character, so other writers would have the chance to know him/her. This is, apart from the fact it helps everyone form a general idea about your way of characterisation and the character they'd be interacting with, quite useful in matters of focusing on what's important.

So, you wonder, what is important?

There usually aren't many fields in the character template to fill. With (slight) alterations based on the genre of the Storybook and/or its main subject, the template will ask about your character's name, age, appearance, personality and history.
Since I know that creating a character this way might look like a battle to some, I've decided to give a short explanation of what should each field feature. I shall, as well, offer a couple of blank templates at the end of this post, which will defer in a few fields. Those will not only be there in case you need a template for your own SB and are too lazy don't feel like making one yourself, but also so, especially if you happen to be new in the world of SBing, you can write a character and post him/her/them in this topic, hence giving other (more experienced) SBers a chance to point out your characters' strong and weak points, suggest things, advice, answer questions and so on and so forth.

Onto it, then.

What to focus on when filling in PTs

~Name - quite self-explanatory. Some SBs might require both first and last name, though mostly first will be enough. If your character is human and the setting is such, I'd suggest you to think of a last name as well. There might come in a scene in which s/he might need to be called by last name. Say, if police comes to arrest her, they'd surely say "Come with us, miss Eyre", not "come with us, Jane" - unless if they know each other, which would imply they're either in a small town when everyone knows each other, or are otherwise connected. If you're using an unisex name, it'd be wise and nice of you to also include the character's gender.

~Age - it's not strange to come across an SB with an age range in the brackets. If so, you should of course respect it. If not, you should think of the role you'd like your character to play. Too much plotting before the start of the SB is never too good, yet some is always welcomed - and besides, thinking your characters through could define the direction of the story itself. So do think of some of the things you might want to achieve with your character (Jane in this case ;) ). If we want her to be involved with Mr Rochester, we can't make her 6, now, can we?
..technically we can. But think about it.
On the related note. I do understand we're all young and that playing young characters offers the most options (she can fall in love, she can be a virgin, she can have to run away from home to do stuff, she can be a prodigy because she's so young, she can be unaware of how cruel the world can be..) but on the other hand, an SB with a bunch of teenagers won't really be much fun. Unless, of course, the setting is such rant it requires it (like, a school), but I won't go there now. In some SBs, it's perfectly fine to play young characters - yet if we're talking about an epic quest, is it really realistic to imagine a fifteen-eighteen-twenty-year old going around and overpowering every enemy she comes across? I don't think so either.
Even if you've never had a character outside of that age range, I suggest you to try it - it's always nice to venture into something unknown when it comes to writing c:

~Appearance - Again, varying from SB to SB, you might find ones which accept only a picture, only written description or demand both - personally I find written description preferable, though I admit that a picture can show somewhat more at times. Some SBs might accept anime/drawn pictures, others will not, so check that before posting one, there's no need to potentially get the SB founder angry by not paying attention to such details c:
When writing your character's appearance, mind the genre and the setting of the SB s/he's a part of. If it's set in medieval times, s/he won't be wearing jeans. If it's a real-life kind of thing, s/he will hardly have eyes which change colour or horns or wings or something of the sort. If the character is in a prison, s/he won't really be wearing expensive fabrics and a lot of jewelry - unless it's a really fancy prison.
Avoid describing your character using words such as "perfect smile", "gorgeous eyes" or "awesome hair". I might find messy dark hair awesome - someone else could imagine ginger dreadlocks in its place. Adjectives are subjective, keep that in mind. You're free to subtly state your opinion, but the point of the PT is primarily to put the picture of your character into the minds of other writers.

~Personality - this is the part which tends to send many potentially great characters back to kingdom come. Absolutely, having a charming witty noble hero or an equally charming yet completely corrupted villain is a classic, but let's face it, it's not really interesting. Being powerful and able to talk or otherwise make your way out of every messy situation can surely come in handy, but if the character is never troubled, it just all gets meh.
Focus on flaws. On what makes your character different from others of the type. Think of his/her weaknesses, at least one to go on every two strengths. Give your character something which makes him/her vulnerable - it will make us all happier to see him/her getting out of the trouble anyway.
And don't be worried - characters are supposed to change and evolve as the story progresses, and eventually you don't need to completely follow your own description anymore; by then, the others will know her/him well enough to be able to follow those changes and what lead to them.

~History - sometimes, SB founders require at least three paragraphs in this section or something along the lines. However, as a wise person once said, uselessly detailed histories are useless - so do fill it with important information, but try to keep to what really is important. We don't need to hear about every pet your character's ever had, you can detail that in your posts if you find it relevant - but if there was one or a few which shaped your character in some way, do mention it.
His/her history doesn't need to explain every point of their personality - not all people do is connected to something from the past, nor is very trait a result of some major event - yet some just ask for the said explanation. Say, if your character is terrified of caterpillars, you should mention it in the history as well - either how s/he got to be so afraid, if there was an event which made him/her be, or when did s/he first notice that fear if there's no rational explanation for it. However, again, though it might be a really interesting story, do keep yourself from going into writing a whole novel about the past events. Basic information will be enough, and focusing on the most important bits - as I said, you can always add details in your posts, via talking to other characters or dreams or thoughts or whatever comes to mind ;)

~Other - quite obviously, this part is reserved for what doesn't really fit in any of the other categories. More often than not, here's where you'll say if your character is up for love (meaning you're open for relationship suggestions from other SBers), perhaps add a theme song (which, frankly, I don't really see the point of, but hey, if it's up your street, go for it) or add something OOC for the other SBers (like "I'd like to see Jane interact with Mr Rochefort later, if that's ok with y'all").

Apart from that, make sure to read the rules and make sure you've noticed everything the SB founder said. More often than not, things can be discussed and one can be allowed to make some alterations to the profile template if needed, but generally the best recipe is to follow the founder's instructions on the matter (that especially goes for things like races, or types of magic in fantasy SBs).

What to focus on when creating PTs

If you happen to be the founder of the SB, you'd want to consider creating a PT for people to fill in, because it makes it easier for them and you can be sure everyone will mention what you judge necessary to be mentioned when it comes to the characters.

When creating a profile template, there aren't really any rules - however, you should make sure everything important is mentioned.
If, say, you have an SB in which each character must have a magical familiar, make sure to include that as an item to fill in as well. If they all must be descendants of Greek Gods, you should put in the field "Descendant of:" and let them tell you. Adding fields to the PT can make one's life much easier c:

Another thing that I find important is to think in advance of a general direction of your SB. By doing so, you will most surely have no problems with deciding if and what should the age limit be, must they all have at least one drastic weakness, do you require the writers to provide both first and last name and so on and so forth.
If your SB has magic in it, I suggest you to specify the limitations regarding it - for too much freedom can be interesting, but not if it gives birth to countless overpowered characters. It's just not fun, trust me.

The empty templates

As I said. Especially if you're new in the world of SBing (no one will really ask you if you were if you don't say it yourself, don't fret to post in any case), you're more than welcome to fill one or a few up and post them here. I'm sure many of the experienced SBers (allow me to count myself in that category as well) will be glad to assist on anything you might need, answer possible questions and point you in the right direction c:

You are free to post characters you used to use, characters from SBs you're in, potential ones, ones you think of randomly on the spot, even ones you maybe use in your novels or so.

~no.1
Spoiler! :
Fantasy setting - kingdoms and wars, and political intrigues, with magic to spice it all up

Name:
Age:
Role:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Race:
Abilities:
Connection to other characters :
Other:


~no.2
Spoiler! :
Sci-Fi setting - a squad to fight evil aliens/zombies/government/whatever

Name:
Age:
Rank:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Other:


~no.3
Spoiler! :
A superhero kind of thing, with two sides as opponents

Name:
Age:
Appearance:
Personality:
Team (good guys vs. bad guys, for our purposes) :
History:
Power(s):
Great Weakness:
Item which helps you to focus your powers:
Other:


~no.4
Spoiler! :
Epic fantasy featuring whatever creature comes to your mind

Name:
Race:
Mage name (pseudonym) - if available:
Age:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Magic type (think the four elements of nature, plus a few if you happen to feel imaginative about it):
Abilities:
Rank:
Other:


~no.5
Spoiler! :
High school love drama, with (strong) elements of horror, set in a place just at the gates of Hell, of course

Name:
Age:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Side (Hell or Earth):
Class (normal student, Buffy-like person, hunter on the evil side,...):
Are you aware of the whole Hell thing:
Connection to other characters :
Weapon of choice:
Other:


~no.6
Spoiler! :
Story set in the world of fairytales, with dark undertones, in which everyone is after a certain object of power

Name:
Age:
Based on which original fairytale character:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
What do you wish to do if obtained the Object:
Abilities:
Allegiances (if any):
Other:


~no.7
Spoiler! :
Time traveling plot, with characters being the travelers

Name:
Age:
Where and When are you from:
How long are you a time traveler:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Your way of traveling:
Skills:
Other:


I might eventually think of more. Forgive me if I haven't put together one which would work perfectly for your particular SB's genre, I have to admit I let my own preferences guide me. However, feel free to mix the templates as you wish, or create new ones, or suggest new ones for others to fill in (though I'd prefer to see the number of filled ones exceeding the number of empty ones) c:

For the time being, I believe this would be all. Finally, allow me to direct you to the sticky topics at the beginning of this forum, which, in short, are made sticky for good reasons ;)
I hope to see some replies here - or if not, I at least hope I've managed to give an advice or two along the way and perhaps answered some questions.

Aria~
Writer of words; doodler of forest sprites







User avatar
1197 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 8772
Reviews: 1197
Sun May 26, 2013 2:01 pm
View Likes
Elinor says...



This is fantastic Aria! Stickying this.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney





User avatar
117 Reviews



Gender: Other
Points: 4007
Reviews: 117
Sun May 26, 2013 2:23 pm
View Likes
ChildOfNowhere says...



Why, thank you very much c:

To break the ice, I found two SB profiles of mine which (I think, more or less) could serve as proper(ish) examples of what I've said. Though they don't quite follow the PTs I put in the first post.

Feel free to attack them with all your forces.

~
Spoiler! :
Fantasy setting with some sides at the brink of war, say, with just enough magic to make the royalty's lives more complicated

Name: Sati
Age: very, very old.. But currently in 20-ish form
Gender: Male
Rank: not available
Allegiance: Self, mostly

Role: a Genie released from his bottle (yes he was in a bottle, lamps are overdone :mrgreen:) and currently masterless. He doesn't t really live anywhere, as he doesn't need to sleep or eat, but does wander around the palaces and inhabited areas, curious about people.

Appearance: He has this unusually pale complexion, which separates him from people around him. His eyes are in color of amber (tend to turn reddish when he does something challenging enough), and his hair is black. It's pretty straight and messy, but he almost always wears a black cloak with a big hood, keeping his head almost completely hidden. Under it, he wears dark red, and carries his home bottle somewhere in his numerous pockets.

Personality, Flaws and Skills: cold, cruel, passionate, smart, devious, playful, charming... Everything when he needs to be. During all the years spent among people and working for them, he managed to evolve as many personalities needed - his own wishes, however, never change. He doesn't have faith in people and always relies only on himself. He loves being free, because of all that he can do without asking permission or hearing a wish, but nevertheless he always enjoys a desperate soul with a big wish only he can make true. Now, when he can, he does take pleasure in watching the person die in belief Sati will actually do what was asked of him.
He is particularly fond of plants and scorpions, and for some reason he can't stand almost all other animals. Sometimes he gets very sad, especially in the nights when he sits far up on the walls and roofs of the town, wondering if anyone will ever ask him what he wishes for.
His powers are his greatest strength, but also are a sort of weakness. He can pretty much do anything, but he's sort of addictive to people's wishes (in a way, he feeds on their desires and his abilities are stronger when he does things for someone else) and he can't go long without using his magic (in that case, he'd go back to his bottle and become prisoner again). He also likes asking for favors in return, especially since he met the demons of unknown parts of the land, and picked up a few tricks.

History: Being released by a reckless master, some fifty years ago or so, he's traveled the world around, trying to find someone he could willingly help to fulfill wishes. When he only found people hungry for power or hungry for food because of those hungry for power, Sati decided to come back to his home, find a way to release others of his kind and begin the new world order. Ironically, in that quest of his, he'll most likely have to work with the same kind of people he wanted to change the world in the first place.

Other: he can get associated with anyone, even more than one person at the time. He may think of them as masters, but will never call them so.

Up for love: Yes (though he doubts anyone could ever want it). He's been with many, both to fulfill wishes and to kill time, but never really in love.


~
Spoiler! :
This one pretty much fits in the "no.1" category - a fantasy setting land, with the plot focused on the political intrigues of a Kingdom

Name: Naini Nadarys; much better known as Silver
Age: 39
Gender: male
Race: Mage
Rank:Royal Advisor
Allegiance: The Kingdom

Appearance: He is quite tall, slender and pale. His hair is black, shading his green eyes. He sometimes has the sort of stare that makes any man obey his will, but at others he actually seems like a nice person. Definitely nicer than he is. His appearance, he's more than aware of it, isn't at all helpful when it comes to spying, but women like it to even assume he'd be spying on his masters is more than insulting.

He tends to dress in black or shades of grey, keeping to shadows and letting the royalty take the place in the spotlight, and he almost always wears gloves. He rarely smiles because he finds something funny - it's more of a weapon of his - but actually does have quite a nice smile. If he'd dress as a commoner and walk the city, there'd be no person who'd suspect that shy charming man wants something from them.

Image

Personality: Silver's biggest strength lies in the way he handles words. He's a master in manipulating, bending the truth and getting people to believe him - many think, to the point he'd be able to literally get the royals to hand over the throne to him. He, however, has no such interests; though he always stays close to the crown, he wouldn't enjoy wearing it himself, always rather deciding to be the whisperer from the shadows than the person of whose affairs people know. Though he's more than able to get most of the people do things he wants with nothing much more than charm and lies, he likes making deals, and dislikes people who think they should get everything just because it's them who want it. He never makes assumptions based on social status, and will listen with equal attention to a king and to a beggar - and weighing the fact he has, find what's the truth and how to profit from it.

Silver's emotions, most likely due to what his history is like, aren't exactly functioning in the way they're supposed to, but he observes people around so well that he's able to fake everything. He can feel, only not for everyone, and he doesn't really act on compassion or empathy. He's, however, never deliberately hurting anyone, and he's not a bad person at heart. His loyalty lies with himself, though he won't betray his Queen for no reason. He does, however, do much more than he tells her, and hence knows much more than she - or anyone - thinks he does.

He aims to act the proper way, as much as his position allows him, and stay loyal and "following the path of righteous" - as his (dead) mother put it - but that doesn't mean he won't give in to his darker side if he finds a good enough reason. He hates magic and everything connected to it, due to what happened to him, but nevertheless will use it in his advantage. He has and isn't too proud to show respect for magical creatures, and is also very good with children.

He absolutely can't handle being touched at the most of his body - unless when he wants it, that is. If one would catch him unprepared, it'd be one of the very few things to make him drop the facade and kill them.

Power/s: he can be hurt, but not killed by any non-magical weapons. He also sees and can talk to ghosts, and tell how/in how long a person would die - both if he concentrates. He could be using magic he's learned from his book of spells, but he doesn't do anything more than making the rooms he's in soundproof or closing his mind so others can't read it.

History: As much as it's known, he grew up in the capital city of the Kingdom, being the son of a bookkeeper (mother) and a banker (father), along with three younger sisters and spending more time reading books than doing almost anything else. When he grew older, his family died in a fire, he ended up in the army, but despite of the fact he could wield a sword and t the targets with bow and arrow, he was soon given over to the previous advisor as an assistant. Being who he is from rather early age, Naini soon enough became an apprentice, and then took the role himself as the advisor - Mr Gold, and hence Naini's nickname - died. Silver was still rather young then, but has proved himself worthy to both the King and the Queen, and he's kept the position ever since.

Most of that, however, is not true, but that is not really known. He was really born to a much poorer family, and sold to a sorcerer along with his sisters. The sorcerer was obsessed with his own family dying a while ago, and wanted to create a Mage who'd bring them back - he couldn't have done it himself, and he knew that it would eventually cost his "subjects" a lot. The first thing that he did was putting a spell on them all, making them unable to die by any non-magic weapons; Naini has scars where he tried to cut his wrists to get out of it all, but they're mostly hidden by the gloves. He then gave them books and papers, taught them spells and made them preform them over and over again.

They didn't quite manage to bring his family back - they ended up seeing the dead all around, and knowing of how people around could or would die, and eventually it got too much for all of them. Silver's sisters were begging him to kill them - and he did, both them and the sorcerer, burning down the house along, taking away his book of spells and his abilities, which he more or less could control.

He then really did join the army, met Mr Gold and started learning the secrets of being an advisor, and he made sure never to show his magic and never to use any of the spells he memorized unless he had no choice.

Other: Up for love, no particular preferences though he leans a bit towards women. If no one takes the role of the Queen - and perhaps even if someone does - there are rumors they're sleeping together, and I have nothing against making them true c:
It's known that he's interested in magic and knows some tricks, but not of his abilities and of the fact he really hates magic. He also sees and talks to his sisters occasionally, but never around people.
Writer of words; doodler of forest sprites







User avatar
23 Reviews



Gender: None specified
Points: 906
Reviews: 23
Mon May 27, 2013 4:56 am
View Likes
CowLogic says...



Censored for the protection of the noobs.
Last edited by CowLogic on Mon May 27, 2013 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The course skin of a thousand elephants sewn together to make one leather wallet.





User avatar
50 Reviews



Gender: Other
Points: 9000
Reviews: 50
Mon May 27, 2013 5:11 am
View Likes
KingLucifer says...



Cogic, you never fail to amaze me.
An angel, a knight, a man who will bring light to where there is only darkness, I am the Morning Star, the Bringer of Light, hail to me as I am King Lucifer!

Formerly: Avalon





User avatar
23 Reviews



Gender: None specified
Points: 906
Reviews: 23
Mon May 27, 2013 5:33 pm
View Likes
CowLogic says...



I live to please.
The course skin of a thousand elephants sewn together to make one leather wallet.





User avatar
1257 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 36899
Reviews: 1257
Tue May 28, 2013 1:30 pm
View Likes
niteowl says...



Want a great example of what NOT to do with a character? Apparently I was in a "Storybook" (more like a Character Chit-Chat about teens lost at sea) in 2005.

Spoiler! :
Brian: True band geek, believes marching band is the meaning of life, popular among the band people but an annoying geek to everyone else Star Sign: Scorpio Hair: Blonde Extra features: Always has his trombone.


See, no dimension, no personality, nothing interesting to speak of. Granted all the profiles were short, but they can be better than this.

My first real foray into Storybooks a few months ago gave us Brent. Critique away.
Spoiler! :
Name: Brent Norwood

Gender: Male

Age: (15-30) 23

Ship: Llorona

Position on ship: Cook/Surgeon

Appearance: About 5'9", average build, with shoulder length light brown hair and blue eyes. He's rather tan from years of sailing. He wears loose clothing that is able to conceal his knives. He sometimes carries a gun but prefers a knife or a cutlass. He is missing the top part of his left ring finger (he claims it was a fight, but it was likely a chopping accident).

Personality: He has a sense of humor, which is somewhat necessary when you're feeding and trying to heal pirates. He's intelligent and makes an effort to nab a book or two when at port (he exchanges them so he never has many at once). He's fiercely loyal to his crew and feels guilty when his surgical skills fail him. He doesn't get angry easily but he can be impatient.

Brief history: Born in London's East End, Brent's mother was a "Lady of the Evening". His father is unknown, but his mother always claimed he was the son of a duke. He has never believed this, but will joke about it. He grew up with two younger sisters and stole to help his mother support them. He also learned to read and write from stolen books and his mother's Bible (he still has it. It makes a convenient knife holder). When he was 9, one of his sisters died of cholera, which made him fascinated with healing. He eventually became convinced that the cure to these illnesses could be found in faraway lands and at 13, he ran away and became a cabin boy on an East India Company ship. He sailed with them for several years, picking up skills in cooking and tending to injuries. However, when he was 19, his ship was overtaken by the Llorona. Sensing a new opportunity, he convinced the captain that a man of his skills would be a welcome addition to their crew. He has sailed with them ever since.

Strengths/weaknesses: Strengths-Intelligent, loyal, skilled thief. Weaknesses-not the best in combat (will probably try to avoid fighting and look for stuff to steal), impatient, has a tendency to daydream

Other: Up for love
"You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand." Leonardo Da Vinci

<YWS><R1>








There are those who say that life is like a book, with chapters for each event in your life and a limited number of pages on which you can spend your time. But I prefer to think that a book is like a life, particularly a good one, which is well to worth staying up all night to finish.
— Lemony Snicket