Character Profile: Aimee Emerson

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! To celebrate here’s a profile of the mother in Brave Young Boys, Aimee!

Aimee.jpgName: Aimee Elizabeth Emerson
Nickname: Aims
Age: 48
Age Appearance: Late 40’s – Early 50’s
Sex: Female
Gender: Female
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Birth Date: August 6th
Status: Alive
Species: Human
Ethnicity: Canadian (I did Google of this was an ethnicity and apparently it is, but it does seem weird)
Name Origin: France
Name Meaning: Beloved Friend
Name Pronunciation: Ay-mee
Archetype: The Caregiver
Western Astrological Sign: Leo
Zodiac Sign: Snake

Physical Traits: Average height, tan from working outside so much
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 170lbs
Glasses/Contacts: None
Eye Colour: Brown
Hair Colour: Sandy Blonde
Hair Style: Shoulder Length, Usually tied up
Facial Hair: None
Distinguishing Marks (Scars, Birthmarks): Couple scars from over the years
Dress Style: Jeans, tshirts, blouses, pastel colours

Strengths: Proud, Charitable, Organized, Loyal, Caring
Weaknesses: Wilful, Jealous, Easily Frustrated

Allergies: None
IQ: 101
General Health: Healthy except for the occasional migraine
Medical History: Nothing too serious
Handicaps: None
Mental Health: Depressed post-Kyler
Blood Type: A+
Medication: Headache pills
Speech (Pace, Vocab): Fast paced, Vocab depends on who she’s with

Parents: Elizabeth and Michael
Siblings: Maggie
Pets: None
Relationship Status: Married
Significant Other(s): Todd
Children: Nova, Kyle (d), Nathan
Other Relatives: Josh, Caleb, and Autumn
Places Lived: Canada, volunteered for a year in Cambodia
Birth Place: Canada
Birth Order: Oldest
Class: Class
Friends: Three currently unnamed friends as I haven’t written that chapter yet
Relationship History: A high school sweetheart, brief relationship with fellow volunteer in Cambodia, few failed dates over the years before meeting Todd

Education: College Graduate
Degree(s): Business
Average Grades: N/A
Criminal Record: Couple speeding tickets
Occupation: Florist
Employment History: Dental Receptionist
Own/Rent: Own
Lives With: Todd and Nate
Transport: Car

Lefty/Righty: Righty
Handwriting: Neat
Accent: Canadian
Languages: English, Some Khmer
Groups/Alone: Groups
Leader/Follower: Leader
Introvert/Extrovert: Extrovert
Attitudes: Positive
Planned/Spontaneous: Planned
Daredevil/Cautious: Cautious

Hobbies: Jogging
Quirks: Reorganizes things when frustrated
Confidant: Usually Todd
Habits/Mannerisms: Taps Foot, Crumpler things when nervous
Accomplishments: Opened Shop
Talents: Floral Arranging
Wishes: Pre-Story: Typical things like a wish for a new car or to win the lottery. During story: Wishes for her family back
Phobias: Spiders
Religion: Not Practiced
Politics: Avoids Politics
Secrets: Depressed (trying to hide it)
Insecurities: Started questioning and doubting herself after Kyle joined up
Memory: Scarily good memory, ‘mom of three teens memory’

Priorities: Family and the shop
Goals: Maybe open a second shop
Short Term Goals: Make it through each day
Long Term Goals: Give the kids a good life
Addictions: None
Smokes: No
Drugs: No
Alcohol: No

Sleeping Habits: Light Sleeper
Dream Job: Florist
Relaxes Them: Gardening, Walking
Excites Them: Jogging, Holidays

Favourite Food: Garlic Bread
Favourite Sport: Not a big sports person
Favourite Book: Interview With a Vampire – Anne Rice
Favourite Music: Country
Favourite Animal: Otter
Favourite Colour: Red
Favourite Season: Spring
Favourite Holiday: Christmas
Favourite Show: Pushing Daisies (Thought it was a gardening show, ended up staying for Lee Pace)
Favourite Scent: Violets
Favourite Pastime: Gardening (especially with the kids)
Favourite Film: Mamma Mia, 2008
Favourite Quote: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis
Favourite Place: Cambodia
Favourite Number: 12
Favourite Curse Word: None

Least Favourite Food: Fish
Least Favourite Sport: Basically all of them
Least Favourite Book: Doesn’t really have one, though she isn’t a big fan of new – age vampire novels
Least Favourite Music: Rap
Least Favourite Animal: Fish
Least Favourite Colour: Green
Least Favourite Season: Winter
Least Favourite Show: Game of Thrones
Least Favourite Pastime: Fishing (Todd took her a couple times and it started a lifelong phobia)
Least Favourite Film: Inkheart
Least Favourite Place: The dentist, freaked her out since she was little so Todd always took the kids
Least Favourite Number: 13

Imagined Actor Portrayal: Julianne Moore

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Character Creation: Giving Them Goals

Goals.jpg

Everyone has goals. I have goals, I’m assuming you have goals, and your characters should have goals.

Have you ever read a book or seen a film in which the main character(s) didn’t have goals? No? That’s because the story would be really boring!

Imagine Harry Potter where Harry doesn’t go after Voldemort; The Hunger Games where Katniss doesn’t lead the Rebellion; Star Wars where Luke doesn’t destroy the Death Star.

Those stories would all be over pretty quickly. I mean, sure, they made for some interesting Alternate Universe fanfics, but a story where the main character doesn’t have a goal isn’t much of a story.

The goal doesn’t even have to be anything major like saving the galaxy, it can be simple. Ever read The Very Hungry Caterpillar? I did. About a million times as a kid. And that caterpillar had a goal. It’s goal was to eat everything in sight.

This might be a bit of a weird example, but you get the point. The goal can be as tiny as eating four strawberries or as huge as saving the planet or galaxy from someone set on destroying it.

Whatever they may be, give your characters goals. They need it and the story needs it.

What goal does your main character have?

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Character Creation: Favourite Things

This one isn’t a requirement when you’re creating your characters, but it’s definitely fun.

Favourite books, films, music, their idol. Obviously if you’re going to include any of this info in the book it should be accurate to your writing. If you’re writing a Victorian Era novel, your main character probably wouldn’t have One Direction as their favourite music.

However, if you’re not planning on including that information in your novel and you think, “if my MC was alive today, what would he/she like?” and you come up with One Direction? Go for it! Knowing your characters favourite things, even if they aren’t included in the book, can help you as the author to connect more to your characters.

I created these character creation sheets (which I’m desperately trying to convert to PDF so I can share them with all of you) and at the bottom of the second page it looks like this:

Fave Things

Now I know most of these don’t say ‘Favourite’ or ‘Fave’ in front of them, but that’s because so far I’m the only one using these sheets and I know what I mean. I may actually make these character profiles longer to include more info.

I’ll use Nathan from Brave Young Boys as an example because I’ve already posted a full profile of him on here in the past. BYB is a pretty easy one for me to do since it’s set in modern times so coming up with stuff Nathan would like was easy.

Favourite television show would be Once Upon A Time. Favourite colour is yellow. His favourite food is spaghetti and hot dogs. He doesn’t have a favourite sport because he dislikes sports and would rather either read or play video games. But why include this information? Why do I need to know any of this?

It’s not likely that he’s going to be sitting down to watch an episode of OUAT is it? I don’t have the copyright for that. But it gives me a sense of what this character is like outside the story.

His favourite colour is yellow so his bedroom is probably yellow. He’s thirteen years old and going through a rough time and because of that he spends a lot of time in his room so having an idea of what that room is like is great.

He doesn’t like sports so when he’s at school in the novel he isn’t going to like gym class, but English or Drama (his favorite subject) would probably be much better.

These are tiny details, things that may never make it in to your novel, but they’re a great resource for you as the writer. It brings the characters to life and gives you the chance to turn them into three-dimensional characters instead of these flat beings that last only as long as the book.

I’ll keep trying to convert my character biography sheets to PDF format and hopefully I’ll be able to post it soon. I’m also hoping to post another character profile for another character from BYB, maybe next weekend!

Update: It’s been converted and posted below!

I’ve only got two more posts in this character creation series, but if you have anything else you’d like me to talk about then let me know!

Do you give your characters favorites? What are they?

Character Creation Chart Template PDF

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Character Creation: Archetypes

Archetypes

I learned about archetypes in school and never understood them. For the life of me I just didn’t get it.

However, more recently, I’ve started to understand them. Not completely, but in context to my own characters and what they mean for representation in my writing, the concept of archetypes does make more sense.

I once again found a helpful chart (which I have included below) on GoTeenWriters.com that lists a bunch of different archetypes along with a description. This has been incredibly useful and helpful to me in figuring out what archetype (or archetypes) fit my characters best.

But what exactly is an archetype? And why do we need them? What are the main archetypes? How do they help your story?

Let’s start simple: what is an archetype?

“The original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based”
Dictionary.com

Pretty simple, right? The original idea of hero is what other heroes are now based on. Obviously there’s some deviation and not every hero is the same, but the general idea is there.

But why do we need archetypes? How do they help your story?

Technically I guess we don’t need archetypes. At least, we don’t need the word archetypes. We’d still have them, these general ideas for what certain people in stories are like or should be like, even if we didn’t call them archetypes.

There’d still be a hero and a villain, we’d still have characters classified as anti-heroes and survivors and temptresses.

I find that the idea of archetypes really helps the story in the sense that it gives you a base line for what your characters can or should be like. It allows you to have some idea of the traits your character may have or the skills they may possess.

A character classified as a Survivor can probably go one of two ways. Either they’re a survivor in the sense that they’ve been through a lot and have come out the other side. This kind of character may have scars, physical or mental or both, to show for their struggles.

You may also have someone classified as a Survivor who lives out the wild and literally does whatever they have to to survive. This kind of character may have hunting skills or wilderness skills.

You get the idea.

One of the characters in my novel is the archetype of Analyst so he can explain anything in a totally rational way. This goes together with some of his other traits (he’s really nerdy and loves technology) and it really gives me a sense of what this character would actually be like.

Finally, what are the main archetypes?

Carl Jung, a psychiatrist from Switzerland, is the one who came up with the idea of archetypes and he believed there to be four main archetypes:

The Self, which Jung often represented using a circle as it is the unification of all the parts of the person that make up The Self.

The Shadow is the archetype based in the unconscious mind that is basically our human instincts.

The Anima or Animus (The Soul) represents our true self as opposed to what we show to the rest of the world

The Persona is the opposite of The Anima or Animus as it is what we show the world as opposed to our true self.

While these are the four main ones Jung came up with, there were several others he talked about including: The Father, The Mother, The Child, The Hero, The Trickster, and a few more.

Along with these, the four main archetypes have also been divided into sort of subcategories which include twelve archetypes:

The Innocent
The Orphan
The Hero
The Caregiver
The Explorer
The Rebel
The Lover
The Creator
The Jester
The Sage
The Magician
The Ruler

You can see these twelve and how here. This website has lots of great information about the twelve archetypes I just listed.

You can also find more information about the four main Jungian archetypes I listed by going here.

Archetypes can be a great help to your novel and when you’re figuring out your characters. They’ve definitely helped me a lot in writing Herro.

Check out the links for more info and the chart below for a list of archetypes!

Which archetypes do you find represents your characters?

Character-Archetypes

Twelve_Character_Archetypes

Character Creation Chart Template PDF

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Character Creation: Primary .vs. Secondary .vs. Tertiary

Characters, Secondary

I always have a hard time distinguishing my primary characters versus my secondary characters. It’s always more like I have primary characters, primary/secondary characters, and tertiary characters.

Obviously, every story has it’s primary characters. I always know which characters are for sure primary, main characters in the story. I also know which characters would be considered tertiary. But then there are certain characters where I literally have no clue if they would be considered primary or secondary. Is that weird?

You’d think I’d be able to tell, right? Especially in my own writing, but it’s actually much more difficult that I would have thought, even with looking at the definitions for each level.

Primary characters are the characters the story revolves around. The protagonists of the book. The secondary characters ‘support’ the primary characters, but the story could technically exist without them. Tertiary characters are the generic characters who don’t need to be in the story, but are there so things make sense. These would be characters like a nurse in a hospital or a cop.

These are the basic definitions you can find pretty much anywhere to describe these three character levels, and while I understand them, it just doesn’t quite sound right.

You have three levels of characters, but that doesn’t make any of them less vital to the story. Your story doesn’t exist without your protagonist, but it’d be a pretty boring story if your protagonist didn’t have a friend or a sidekick to stir the pot and make things interesting. And who knows, generic cop #3 or nurse #2 might hold all the answers.

In BYB there’s a character temporarily named Alice who I think would probably be considered a secondary character. By definition this means the story could technically exist without her, but that’s just not true. She plays a major role in the novel. She’s not the main character, she doesn’t have very much dialogue, I haven’t even settled on an official name for her yet. But still, she is incredibly vital to the whole story.

So what does this mean then? Why do we even bother having these character levels if we’re not going to use them? Well, for the same reason we have most boxes that things fit into. Most of your characters probably will fall into one of these three categories, but that doesn’t mean they’ll fit the definition. In the same way that not all stereotypes are true, not all secondary characters are there to merely ‘support’ the main character.

But having these levels really does help. It gives you a general idea of your characters and where they fit into everything. It also helps you see if you have too many primary characters or too many secondary characters (though this really is up to you too).

At the end of the day, whether a character is primary, secondary, or tertiary, make them important. This is the same thing I always say when it comes to character creation, make sure your characters are there for a reason. Toss the idea of levels out the window if you need to, just make sure your characters mean something.

Alice means something. She’s there for a reason, an important reason. Her role may be smaller, but just like Nathan or Kyler or any of the others, she’s included because she needs to be in the story. Don’t stick characters in your novel just for the sake of having them. Generic Cop #3? He needs to have a reason to be there.

So long as all your characters have a purpose in the story then it really doesn’t matter what level they’re on.

Do you find it difficult to distinguish between your primary and secondary characters?

Character Creation Chart Template PDF

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Creating Characters: Hobbies

fictional characters

Hobbies is both a fun and a frustrating part of creating characters. Honestly, trying to come up with hobbies for my characters made me feel really stupid because I just kept coming up with the same ones over and over.

Obviously you don’t want all your characters to have the same hobbies and traits because that would be boring. Not to mention incredibly unbelievable. You’ve got six characters who are all avid readers and all love to play volleyball. Unless they were all related and came from a reading/volleyball playing family, this doesn’t seem very likely does it?

Now, I wish I had some super sage advice on how to come up with unique hobbies, but I don’t. Use the internet, that’s all I can say. That’s how I come up with hobbies for my characters. I’ve included the PDF file for the Go Teen Writers Hobbies/Skills list, which is one that I use frequently, on the bottom of the post. It’s a great list and I recommend checking it out if you need help coming up with ideas.

The advice I do have though is to make your character’s hobbies diverse. You can have the stereotypical nerd kid whose hobbies include reading, doing homework, going to conventions and that’s fine (personally, I don’t have an issue with stereotypes, but that’s a post for another time). But! There’s nothing wrong with breaking stereotypes too.

Your stereotypical nerd kid could be an avid soccer player or they could love to knit or they could collect shot glasses or something like that. That’s the part of hobbies that I really enjoy, giving the characters kind of strange, unique things.

As frustrating as it can be to think of things, how awesome is it once you’ve got this character who actually has things they like doing. When those things can be incorporated into the story in various ways. It makes them seem a lot more real doesn’t it?

I’ve got a character who is really into certain types of art and whenever I see a piece of art like that I think of that character. It’s weird that something like that can make me think of a fictional character I created, but that’s just how it works and, as weird as it is, it’s a pretty cool feeling. If I feel like that then maybe one day others will too.

Imagine your character really liked black and white photography. Now imagine that your character is someone’s favourite character. Whenever this person sees black and white photography they think of your character. Maybe they even get into black and white photography themselves because of your character. How cool is that?

Hobbies are significantly harder to talk about than I thought they would be. I guess this shouldn’t really be a surprise given how difficult it was for me to come up with hobbies for my own characters, writing about it probably wouldn’t be a walk in the park.

Nonetheless, I hope you maybe found this post helpful. If not, then thanks for sticking with it anyway long enough to reach this point.

How do you come up with hobbies your characters? Do all your characters share a certain feature?

Character-Hobbies-and-Skills-Brainstorming-List

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Character Creation: Phobias

Character Fears

Phobias is one of the things I struggle with the most when I’m creating my characters which is why it’s a separate blog post.

Now you’re probably thinking, “phobias/fears aren’t a difficult thing, they’re just another trait.” And this is true. But for some reason I’ve always found it more difficult to come up with things for my characters to be scared of than I do to come up with aspects of their personality.

You don’t want all your characters to be scared of the same things and you don’t want them all to have common fears. Like, you don’t want all of your characters to be scared of sharks or heights or clowns or something like that.

It’s true that many people are scared of these things and more, and if some of your characters are scared of these things that would be normal. But can you imagine how boring it would be if every single character had a fear of heights? It would be boring and probably pretty unbelievable. Instead, trying giving your characters crazy fears, things that people might find it strange to be scared of.

This is where I usually struggle. It’s hard to come up with crazy fears. If someone is scared of heights the reason behind this fear could be something bad happened to them involving heights or it’s just a fear that they don’t know where it came from. But if you’re going to have a character be scared of cheese or something like that, you’re probably going to need a reason.

You can give your characters any phobias and fear that you want. It can make sense or not, you’re the author, it’s totally up to you. But make sure there’s a reason behind this fear or phobia. If there isn’t then your readers will probably sit back and go, “That’s a really strange thing to be scared of for no reason…” and it’ll just confuse them.

Honestly, phobias in characters is one of the last things I work on because it takes me so much time to figure out. Sometimes I don’t even think of them until I’m already part way through, or even finished, with my novel. Sometimes these fears just pop up as I’m writing (honestly, I really like when this happens because helps things flow so much better).

However, when this doesn’t happen and I have to think of the phobias myself, I use the Go Teen Writers Phobias List (PDF link below).

This list has helped me so much and it has some things on it that I never would have thought of as a fear for my characters.

What sort of fears and phobias do your characters have?

Go Teen Writers Phobias List

 Phobias

Character Creation Chart Template PDF

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