What Is a Character Portrait? How to Write a Character Portrait? Find Out Now

What Is a Character Portrait? How to Write a Character Portrait? Find Out Now

Posted By : April 22, 2024

Today we are going to talk about a character portrait because it is one of the most important aspects of writing anything with a character.

This blog is going to be quite helpful to new authors who are just starting out on their journey of creating a character-based novel.

So, we are going to explore the topic of a character portrait and talk about what it actually means. This will help us understand why it can be a very powerful tool.

We will also help you understand what is a character profile and also talk about any possible differences between the terminology of a character profile or a portrait.

So, let us get right into it without delay.

What Is a Character Portrait?

The purpose of a character portrait is to create a very believable character that is quite real with real hopes and dreams and a real personality and thought process.

That can only be done if you put a lot of detail into the character sketch of the character involved and give it a lot of details.

That is why creating a character sketch or character portrait is a good way of ensuring that you already have a good number of the details close by so that you can refer to them when you are inculcating that character in your novel.

It is important to understand that this is a characterization technique that can be helpful not only for amateurs but also for professionals with a lot of books under their belt.

The more detail you put into it the better of a sketch you are going to get. This detail can be in the form of their backstory and it can also be in the form of how they look and every small routine about them.

If you take a look at some of the most successful characters in literary history then you are going to find that these characters are quite detailed. This exercise in character portrait will also be excellent for your writing tone.

Is It Different from A Character Profile?

They are basically the same for all intends and purposes. Sometimes a character portrait and a character profile are used interchangeably and sometimes either one of them is not used at all.

However, they are basically the same when it comes to creative writing because if you dig a little deeper then the meaning might change if the medium changes.

This is because if you are writing a script for a TV show or a comic book then a character portrait is going to be a physical manifestation of the character and it can also be detailed sketches of the characters’ expressions and much more.

This representation might include facial expressions, facial features, posture features etc.

But when we are talking about creative writing where the only final medium is going to be text, the differences between a character profile and a character portrait become blurry.

However, they are still different from a character sketch because a character profile or portrait is a lot more detailed than a character sketch.

The important thing here is to not try and find the exact definition but to actually understand how to utilise this literary tool and how to create this detailed reflection of the character. You can call it a character potato if you want.

Tips On How to Write a Character Portrait

Create A Character Background

The first thing you need to do in this journey of creating a character portrait is to create the most important details about the character.

This includes the name of the character and where the character is from. If you are writing a novel about a point of time in history then you should keep those factors in mind while creating the background.

Accordingly, you must create the background in a way that includes the character’s family members and you must also make sure to add things like details about the character’s town.

Accordingly, you must also add other important details about the character’s occupation because it is going to influence not only their physical description but it will also influence their personality as well as their backstory.

Sometimes the character’s background as well as the character’s backstory are used interchangeably and there is no harm in it.

Create The Character’s Backstory

The character’s backstory is also quite similar to the character background but it is not as detailed as the character background.

The character backstory is however very important for the plot of the character as well as the character arc.

When it comes to the backstory of the character, you must write it in a way that ties the character with the story of the novel.

While people usually create a character portrait only for the major characters of the story but you can also create multiple character portraits but it is going to take a long time.

That is why we are assuming that you are going to create the character backstory for a major character and that also means this character is going to play an important part in the overall story.

So, this means you should add important details to the life of the character. This is also an excellent moment to add other details like the relationship of the character with other major and minor characters.

Create The Physical Details

Now it is time for you to add the physical details to your character.

There is a reason why we have kept this very important point as the third point and not the first point in this chronological order.

And it is simply because the character’s background as well as the backstory will play a very important role in the physical details of the character.

For example, if your story is set in Southern Italy and your character is a money lender then their physique will be quite different from a character who is a fisherman living in the same area.

The background and the backstory all play an important role in the character’s physical description. The background will help you as a guide in creating different details of your character.

For example, if you are creating a character who is ethically Indian then it would make much more sense to give the character brown eyes rather than green eyes.

And the physical description as well as the backstory will also play an important role in the next point about the personality of the character.

Give The Character A Personality

The most important thing that new authors miss out on is that all the elements of a character portrait are deeply interconnected with each other.

This means the first point is going to influence the second point and the second point is going to influence the third and just like that this point is going to be influenced by the others.

This means that you can give your character a very unique personality but that personality will be a result of their backstory and their physical features as well as their background and most importantly their background.

This means if your character is, for example, a banker. Their personality will be very polished and formal most of the time and they will have a subtle nuanced personality to them.

Now compare that to another example of a character who works at a stock exchange, their personality will be loud and it will not be as polished as the banker.

Your character’s personality will be influenced by external factors just how it happens in the real world and if you are able to showcase that then your character will be much more detailed and seem more real.

Give The Character a Routine

If you want to improve the details and make sure you do not have any loopholes during the actual story, it is best to create a routine for the character.

This means you give the character a real life and then you write about it from the beginning of the day to the end of the night.

This will bring realism to the next level because now you can understand what the character is like and how the character will behave if something happens out of the ordinary.

You can then bend the story to your narrative and make the character move out of their routine to do something that goes with the story.

This is because you cannot have a story where everything happens normally.

For example, you cannot have a story about a fisherman in Italy waking up and cleaning his nets and then going out to fish and returning home and sleeping.

In order to make that story about the fisherman to make it to your novel you need to bring in something that disrupts his routine and makes him do something out of the ordinary.

Do Not Worry About Perfection

When you are creating a character portrait, you do not need to think about perfection because this is not the final story.

This will be just like creating a plot outline which will ultimately help you write the final story. This character portrait will never be seen by the public.

That is why you can add as many details as you want and you can write about every idea that you have in your mind without any consequences to the story.

The thing is amateur authors often hold back their emotions and what they feel and they try to bring out perfection and bring out a balanced character.

In real life, if a character is worth a novel or a story then that character will not be balanced and will not lead in normal life or will not be allowed to lead a normal life.

That is exactly how you should think when you are creating your character.

More Than One Character

The thing about creating a character portrait is that there is no limitation on how many people you can group into a single type of character.

This means you might have a single character portrait for a major character or you can even have a few character portraits for minor characters.

However, your novel might have different groups of characters that share the same kind of details and you can then group them into one character portrait.

For instance, if we take the example of the Italian fisherman, that character might have a character portrait. However, that character might interact with several minor characters like fish sellers who can have a single character portrait and be grouped into one.

They might act the same and they might be having the same kind of routine.

This is usually done because there is no point in creating a detailed character portrait of minor characters who are only going to act in a group. You can do it but it will just be a waste of time unless you plan on creating a spinoff novel series.

Create A Set of Questions

If you feel like this work of creating a character portrait is going to be very time-consuming then you can standardise that process for yourself.

If you want to do that then all you need to do is create a set of questions that you need to ask every time you create a character portrait.

These questions can be what the character looks like and what is the economic background as well as the social background of the character.

You can also add questions related to the occupation of the character as well as the surroundings of the character and their family members and other important questions like this.

We hope this blog will help you create the perfect character portrait which will definitely help you in writing your novel.

However, if you are not confident about creating the character portrait or you simply do not have the time to write your novel along with all the necessities like a character portrait, we are here for you.

We are Ghostwriting India and we are the fastest-growing as well as most popular ghostwriter-for-hire agency in India.

We will help you write the perfect character portrait or even the entire novel because we do every kind of ghostwriting including complete novels.

We are also the leaders when it comes to online web content writing as well as TV script writing and children’s book writing and much more.

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Common Character Portrait FAQ

How do you make a character portrait?

The only thing you must keep in mind while creating a character portrait is to add as many details as possible to the character.

This means you need to add a background of the character as well as a backstory and you also need to add details regarding the physical features of the character.

It is also important to add personality to the character as well as other details like the people around the character.

You should also give the character a routine. The thing about a character portrait is that the more details you are going to add now, the easier it will be for you to utilise that character in your novel later.

How do I create my own character?

The art of creating a character deserves not just an answer and is not even a blog but an entire book because this is such a nuanced topic.

However, for the answer’s sake we are going to tell you that if you want to create your own character, it helps if you do not create that character completely from your imagination.

This is because if you take different elements of that character from actual people in your life then you can create a very realistic character and you do not even have to think about it.

But the truth about it is that if you truly want to create a character from imagination then you are probably going to get inspired by people in your life and add elements from their personality subconsciously or even unconsciously.

So, it is best to use it actively and create characters after people you actually know.

What is a portrait style of writing?

While this does not really mean anything in literature within the purview of a standard definition but if you want to understand it from the perspective of writing then a portrait style of writing would be like character-centric writing.

This means an elaborate description of the character and a high level of reliance on certain characters for the narrative.

You can also have a portrait style of writing when it comes to writing a historical novel or a biographical novel about someone in history.

It would be like creating their portrait.


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