Who’s Who – A Character’s Profile

Who's Who FB (3)To learn how to create character profiles, I’ve read many books and blog posts, listened to many podcasts, and downloaded many profile sheets. Once I settled on what I needed to know about my characters and before writing a single word, I started working on their character’s profile.

When I write a scene I need to visualize what the characters looks like, what their “ticks” are, and what type of personalities they have. Sure, people I’ve known and still know influence certain parts of characters, but there’s more to it than that. Coincidentally, a few days ago, while I was at the market I bumped into a woman I worked with years ago. We were “work friends” then and it was wonderful seeing her. We briefly chatted about how we were and what our children were up to. We talked a little about my School Marshal series, she asked when there is a movie made she’d like Angelina Jolie to play her character.  I told her she was too nice to be a character in my genre (Suspense/Thriller). However, there were a few women (and men) I worked with who provided me with plenty of inspiration for some of my characters.

Back to character development… First I flush out what I want that character to contribute to the story. Are they male or female? Will they be good or evil? Will they be a primary character or a secondary character? How old are they? Will they continue in the series beyond the book they debuted in?

Next, I zoom in on the character. What do they look like? How do they dress? Are they an introvert or extrovert? I don’t use all of the profile information because I want the reader to picture the characters how they see them. Maybe, I go overboard—I give the main characters a birth date, wedding date, family connections, and favorite things (Mac, the School Marshal has a guilty pleasure of an occasional cigar).

When I was a supervisor, I read a book about personality types, “Type Talk at Work” by Otto Kroeger with Janet M. Thuesen. The book helped me understand the people I supervised. The authors’ focused on the philosophy of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and developed strategies for working with the various types of personalities.

According to the Myers-Briggs philosophy we are either Extrovert or Introvert; Sensing or INtuitive; Thinking or Feeling; Judging or Perceiving. Not to say you’re born one way and stay that way forever, people change as they age and mature—so do characters. I took the Myer-Briggs test years ago and I was ENFP (Extrovert, INtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving), I’m sure the results would be slightly different today.

On my character profile sheets—yes there is an entire document for each character with all the details I’ve mentioned and more—I include what the character’s personality type is. Mac, my leading man, who I wrote about a few weeks ago, is ISFJ (Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). Here’s the link if you missed that post. Leading Man

Just for fun, here’s a short Myers-Briggs type test (for my fiction characters) you can take to see what four letter personality type you’d be if you were a character in one of my books. Take the test first, and then read about your type. MyersBriggs Character Test

Be sure to share the results of your test.

Thank you for reading. -Robin

My Leading Man (a.k.a. protagonist)

Comfort ZoneFor me, a lot of time was spent choosing a leading man for the School Marshal series and learning about him. I knew I wanted a military background for two reasons: #1 – A military man in a leading role is hot and #2 – When it comes to good vs evil, I’ve always had the utmost respect for military and law enforcement.

My son-in-law, who will soon retire from the U.S. Air force after twenty years of service suggested the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC, Pararescue, PJs, or Air Commandos). Probably like me, you’ve never heard of Pararescuemen. When you hear “Army Ranger” or “Navy Seal”, most people think bad-ass. I wanted bad-ass with heart. Not to imply that Army Rangers and Navy Seals don’t have a heart. Pararescuemen rescue the injured, and administer lifesaving medical treatment. In my opinion, anyone trained to rescue and treat the injured has to have a big heart.

The more my son-in-law told me about Pararescue, I knew it was the perfect fit for my leading man. Cole Judson MacKenna (Mac) came to life in my mind.

Here’s a little about Mac:Mac's tattoo #2Mac's tattoo #1

I envision Mac to be even tempered. He’s a private man who shares very little about his life outside of work. Because he moved around a lot during his twenty years in the Air Force, he’s never been married and has no children that he knows of. He and his older sister are close; she’s always called him “CJ”. Mac has two tattoos (inspiration photos included); (1) On the left side of his chest (over his heart) is a USAF Pararescue insignia of a parachute with an angel holding the world and a banner that reads, “That Others May Live” and (2) On the right side of his chest three red stars over an eagle holding a banner that reads, “US Air Force”.

Are you excited to read more about Mac? I’m excited to introduce him to the world. I’m in the final stages of revision on “Unknown Threat” and have a tentative plan to launch the book in September 2016.

Here’s a little about PJs:

In part from the Air Force Special Operations Command – Air Force Pararescuemen, also known as PJs, are the only DoD elite combat forces specifically organized, trained, equipped, and postured to conduct full spectrum Personnel Recovery (PR) to include both conventional and unconventional combat rescue operations. Theses Battlefield Airmen are the most highly trained and versatile Personnel Recovery specialists in the world…

All PJs are qualified experts in:

  • Advanced Weapons and Small Unit Tactics
  • Airborne and Military Free Fall
  • Static line jump operations
  • High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) parachute operations
  • High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) Parachute operations
  • Small Boat/Vehicle Craft utilization
  • Rescue Swimmers
  • Battlefield Trauma/Paramedics
  • Fast rope/rappel/hoist from any vehicle lift aircraft to both land and open ocean rescue objectives

The Pararescue Motto, “These Things We Do, That Others May Live”

You can read more about AFSOC here: AFSOC

Are you excited to read more about Mac? I’m excited to introduce him to the world. I’m in the final stages of revision on “Unknown Threat” and have a tentative plan to launch the book in September 2016.

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Location Inspiration

Location Inspiration FBAs with most writers, I guard my writing like a mother guards her child. With that said, I think the time is right to share a little of the inspiration used for the central location in my School Marshal series.

Although the primary town in the series, Brookfield, California, is fictional it’s based on the morphing of Napa County, California and El Dorado County, California. Those two areas are what I picture in my mind when I write about what’s happening in and around Brookfield. Because I live in El Dorado County I can easily tap into the hometown feeling. Why Napa County? Napa County has a rich history similarly to El Dorado County and much like where I live it’s a beautiful locale. Mostly I wanted Brookfield to be geographically located closer to where Napa County is located, northwest of Sacramento.

I flip-flopped on whether to use Placerville and businesses in and around Placerville in the scenes that take place in downtown, as well as street names and highways or create a fictional town using Placerville as inspiration. I opted fictional because businesses close and new streets are added.

If you’re familiar with El Dorado County you’ll probably recognize similarities in Brookfield. When the characters drive on the highway that divides residential Brookfield from commercial Brookfield, I hope it feels like traveling east or west on U.S. Highway 50. Two large residential developments in El Dorado County that I draw inspiration from are Serrano and Blackstone. The namesake for the primary affluent neighborhood and K-12 public school in “Unknown Threat”, book #1 is Blackstone, although the community feels more like the Serrano development to me.

Downtown Brookfield is similarly constructed to downtown Placerville. I’ve always loved maps, and I’ve created a rough drawing of downtown Brookfield that I’ll share once I’ve had it professionally drawn. As I write scenes taking place in downtown Brookfield I refer to my roughly drawn city map so that I know “where” I am. This may be the school bus route planner from many years ago coming out of me.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of where I glean my location inspiration from. If you have questions or comments you’re always welcome to email me or post on the website.

Until next week…

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