Writing How-To: Character Profiles

Whether you’re writing a short story, television series, movie, novel, etc., you are going to have to complete more than one character profile.

Over the years, I have completed MANY of them, and have collated a well-rounded list of character qualities to help you decide who your character is.

CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT:

Character Profile notes


If you can’t download the file, here are the profile notes:

CHARACTER NAME:

AGE:

ETHNICITY:

DESCRIPTION (EYE COLOUR, HAIR COLOUR, HAIR STYLE, HEIGHT, WEIGHT, BUILD, ETC.):

STYLE OF DRESS:

PHYSICAL FLAWS, ABNORMALITIES OR DISABILITIES:

SIGNIFICANT RELATIONSHIPS:

WORST MEMORY:
BEST MEMORY:

QUIRKS AND MANNERISMS:

WHAT DO THEY BRING TO THE WRITING PROJECT/HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CHARACTERS:

WHAT PART OF THEIR PERSONALITY CAN/SHOULD CHANGE:

DO THEY WANT TO CHANGE:

WHAT ARE THEIR LITTLE, SOMETIMES UNREASONABLE, FEARS:

WHAT ARE THEY SCEPTICAL OF, AND WHY:

RELIGION/CULTURE/TRADITIONS:

WHAT DO THEY DO ON THEIR DOWN-TIME:

WHO IS/ARE THEIR BESTFRIEND/S:

WHO IS/ARE THEIR ENEMY/IES:

SKILLS:

HOBBIES:

FAVOURITE FOOD:

LEAST FAVOURITE FOOD:

FAMILY (PARENTS, SIBLINGS, ETC.):

FRIENDS:

PETS:

LIFE-SHAPING EVENTS AND THEIR LONG-TERM EFFECTS:

HAPPY/SAD CHILDHOOD:

EDUCATION:

OCCUPATION:

INTERNAL CONFLICTS:

EXTERNAL CONFLICTS:


Don’t worry if you can’t answer all of these questions yet, some of it will be decided as you go along.

Let me know how you go.


Make sure you also check out my other Writing Tips and Tricks:

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Writing How-To: Format a Script/Screenplay

If you love writing, then write. Things like formatting don’t matter until you’ve put pen to paper.

This post is about the technical formatting of your screenplay/script. I will write another post soon about what to put in your script, and how to use proper terminology.

For those that are ready, here is my step-by-step tutorial Writing How-To: Format a Script/Screenplay. I usually use a program called Movie Magic Screenwriter by Write Brothers, but I will be showing you using Word, because it’s free and still easy. I will be using a Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Band Candy script as examples throughout (don’t worry, I won’t put any major spoilers in it).

You can do it in any order, but I will be going from front to back.

Step One

TITLE PAGE

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Title and Names:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined), names clear formatting.

Contact Info:
Courier New 12pt, flush right. Name, address, email address (professional), phone number

Step Two

CAST LIST

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined)

Names:
Justified, clear formatting
*Regular cast (for television series) goes first, then guest stars.*

STEP THREE

SET LIST

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, two inches (6 ‘enters’ from top margin, title in bold (sometimes underlined)

Text:
‘Set List’ underlined, centred
‘Interiors’ and ‘Exteriors’ underlined, justified
Rest in justified, clear formatting
*Interiors first, then Exteriors*

STEP FOUR

ACT ONE or TEASER – Page 1

Television shows have a short section at the start to introduce the main story of the episode. Films just begin with Act One.

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Title:
Courier New 12pt, centred, underlined
*Title no longer on screenplay/script pages after this*

Text:
‘Teaser’ centred, capitals
‘Interior’ or ‘Exterior’ capitals, justified
Scene, character, and action description flush left, clear formatting
Character name in capitals in description first time mentioned
Character name (dialogue header) capitals, left indent (6 ‘tab’ from left margin)
Dialogue centred, left indent (3 ‘tab’ from left margin), 10cm long

STEP FIVE

END OF ACT ONE or TEASER

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Text:
‘Fade to Black’ or ‘Black Out’ flush left, capitals
‘End Of…’ centred, capitals


So, there you go. This is how you format a screenplay/script using Word and no template. Templates are easier to use – programs are better, though – so decide wisely.

How-To: Wrap a Present

I used to absolutely suck at wrapping presents. I used too much sticky tape, I ripped the paper, and there was WAY more paper than present.

Last year I volunteered with The Family Centre, wrapping presents for donations at a local shopping centre. I suddenly had to get very good.

After watching and giving it a try, I’ve found a pretty good way to wrap presents, and I thought I would share it with you all.

STEP ONE

Gather your materials. You will need:

  • The present
  • Wrapping paper
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors (ADULT SUPERVISION)

 

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STEP TWO

Lay out the wrapping paper with the present on it. I started wrapping this on the carpet, but then moved to a table. Don’t cut too big of a sheet. You can always cut some off before finishing. I lay the top of the present down, because the folds end at the top and this way the top will be seamless.

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STEP THREE

Bring the longest sides together and place one bit of sticky tape.

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STEP FOUR

I moved to a table to make sure my folds were crisp. Push down the top layer of the paper, and fold the sides into crisp angles.

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STEP FIVE

One corner at a time, fold them over to form a point. Do this on both sides.

 

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STEP SIX

Fold the sides up and use one piece of sticky tape.

 

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There you go! All wrapped. This technique works for more than just square gifts too.

Happy wrapping!

Writing How-To: Plot and Structure Plan – SIMPLE version

Over the last fifteen or so years, I have dedicated myself to researching new writing (short story, novel, script) tips, tricks, and techniques. So, naturally, I want to share them with you all.

Some of these tips will be from my own experience, some from research, and some from my university studies.

Let me begin by saying these structure plans are not a ‘must do’. Yes, they are how the vast majority of novels and screenplays are written, but writing is a creative form and can always be beautiful when done uniquely. This is the simple version (in-depth version still to come). For examples throughout, I will be using Speed (1994) – this means there will be SPOILERS!

1. Believable/Sympathetic lead character

Each story needs to begin with the introduction of the lead character and the world of the story. The majority of lead characters need to garner sympathy from the audience. If we feel bad for them when they are being targeted by the bad guys, we will root for them. (i.e. Jack Traven and Harry Temple are L.A. SWAT officers. Straight away we see them in action, and acknowledge them as the good guys. When Jack shoots Harry to get to bomber-Howard, there is humour, a likeable emotion. We like them, therefore we root for them.)

2. Urgent/Difficult problem

This is where the action really takes off. Our lead character must be affected by an urgent and difficult problem. Not every problem the lead character will face is evident at this point, but it sets up the antagonist. (i.e. Bomber-Howard contacts Jack, and sets up the premise: “There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up.”)

3. Attempts to overcome the problem

This is where the majority of the story/novel/screenplay takes place. Imagine a cliff with jagged rises. Each plateau is another problem. There are no real limits to how many problems your story needs, but each one needs to keep progressing the story. (i.e. Speed (1994) contained many problems for Jack to overcome. They include – not in order because I can’t remember – getting onto the bus that has already reached the bomb activation limit, passenger with gun and subsequent shot driver, navigating in heavy traffic without slowing, getting passengers off, etc.)

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4. Climax/Last stand

This can either be a continuation of the action – one thing leading to the next and never letting up or giving the lead character time to breath and recover, or almost like an after-thought – such as in Speed (1994) where Jack and Annie think the event is over only to have to face one last, major, problem. This problem needs to be more threatening than the others. The lead character doesn’t even need to be entirely successful (though it is the norm), but it is the end of the conflict.

5. Resolution

The end of the story needs to almost mirror the introduction. It will show how the world of the story has changed, and how our lead character has grown from the experience.

So, this is the simple version of the Plot and Structure Plan. I will be going through the in-depth version soon, but this version is still great for beginners.