Make your words, settings and characters jump from the page

Stephanie Heijkoop

Copyright 2017 © by Stephanie Heijkoop
ePub Edition
All rights reserved


  • The ultimate recipe for creating compelling characters
  • 100 + character traits and their behaviours
  • 100 + ways to show your character’s emotions
  • 100 + ways to distinguish your characters dialog
  • 100 + ways to describe women’s clothing
  • 50 + ways to describe men’s clothing
  • 100 + gestures and body language for your character
  • 100 + ways to describe facial expressions
  • 50 + ways your character can sit
  • 100 + character fears, phobias and superstitions
  • 100 + dead-end jobs, low paying jobs, high paying jobs and work from home jobs for your character
  • 100 + ways to describe colour, light, pain, smell, taste
  • 100 + ways to say (things you won’t often find in the thesaurus) big, use, get, put, bring, told, said, agreed, thought, became
  • 100 + strong verbs to use instead of…..
  • Words we use reduntently
  • 100 + telling words you need to eliminate
  • A check list before you publish your novel


Writing a highly developed character profile might seem daunting, or even pointless, but a well thought out Protagonist and all of your supporting characters helps with the writing process.
It can’t be stressed enough, that your novel is all about your character/s. He or she is the DNA of your story, and without him or her, your story is a just a theory, or a news event. Think about it this way. Imagine 200 pages of describing a mountain side and a lake, and the devastating consequences of global warming has on this particular scene. Without a character there to show you how he feels, thinks, and see’s the climate change, you won’t have a story. No one will read it. The same is said for bland character’s who think and speak generically.
Most importantly, if you skimp on taking the time or making the effort to get to know your characters before you begin writing your draft, you will have little sense of how they should behave and react to what is happening around them.
Let’s say that your character has asked his wife for a divorce.
Does the wife remain calm or break out into a tantrum?

You won’t know the answer unless you have created a profile for the wife. If you decide to take a wild guess, or perhaps base the wife’s reaction to what you would do, and then later the wife has the opposite reaction to something equally disappointing, you’ve got yourself a very dissapointed reader. The reader should be able to guess how your character will react with every passing event. This isn’t to say that your character can’t surprise your reader, but it must be in a realistic way. If you don’t know your characters, your readers won’t either.

Another example in favour of building a character bio. Let’s say your character’s favourite icecream flavour is vanilla. He’s not keen on trying anything new. Knowing this is an advantage for you because…
Your character could bring his wife out for an ice cream. He waits outside with the dog while the wife walks into the ice cream parlour and buys two ice cream cones. One for herself, and one for her dear husband. When the wife hands her husband the ice cream cone the man is disappointed because she had bought him blueberry swirl, not vanilla like he would have wanted. This then creates conflict, and can be used as the opening to rise hidden tension that the man had been feeling for his wife. He begins to shake his head, sigh, and tell her that she doesn’t know him. This turns into a small argument before the husband admits, he’s been thinking of a divorce.
The divorce was something the man had been too scared to bring up in the past, but it came easy as they threw each other insults, all because the wife had not chosen the right ice cream flavour. The wife who had made a simple mistake had fed her husband a bone.

So how do we create a completing character profile? If you can figure out 90% of the following questions, you will never have a reader complain about cardboard characters.

What is your characters name?
The name is an obvious one. First name, middle name, and last name. While you’re at it, what does your character think of their name? Does your male character have an embarrassing middle name like, Margaret? If so, does he shorten it to a simple M. Scott M Lloyd. Instead of Scott Margaret Loyd. And who is Margaret? A great aunt?
Let’s not forget nicknames. His parents call him Scotty, but Scott when they’re being serious. His friends call him by his surname. Or perhaps Scott has given himself a nickname.

Who are your character’s personal relations?
Just like you, different people refer to you in different ways. Let’s Say your name is Jessica. An absolute beautiful name, lucky you. Your surname is Harris, and you’re a school teacher.
Most of your students call you Miss. Others call you Miss Harris, and your colleagues also refer to you as Miss Harris.
Your mother calls you Jessica. Your father calls you Jessie girl, which both amuses and infuriates you, and your friends call you Jess. Your boyfriend calls you J-J, and you’re not sure how that makes you feel, but you’d prefer he didn’t, and your neighbour calls you, hey, you!

Choose your name wisely.
You would hardly expect a girl with both Italian parents to be named Maeve or Siobhan, would you? Or a boy with two Indian parents being called Michelangelo. If so, make sure there is a reason, ie, the Italian girl’s parents were a huge fan of singer Siobhan O’neill.
And you would hardly call a character Blaze or clover if his or her parents were the complete opposite to hippies.
When naming your character, consider the following:
Character’s ethnicity
Era of birth – What was/is a popular name for your books era? Make sure to get it right.
Say the name out loud. Does it sound right? Is it something you can work with for 200-300 pages?
Would a name like Ginger Sue be taken seriously as a lawyer?
Is it short and membreable, and more importantly, can your reader pronounce it? Keep the name to three syllables or less, and provide an artful way to tell your reader it’s pronounced killion, not sillion when the spelling is Cillian.
Unless your characters are famous, is your character’s name realistic? There is nothing wrong with choosing David’s and Jane’s.

What does your character look like?
Is your character short or tall?
Overweight, underweight, in shape, pot bellied?
The colour and style of their hair?
Their eye colour?
Do they have a particular smell? Pleasant or otherwise? Do they have a signature perfume or cologne?
What is their dress style?
Do they walk with a gate? Slouch when they sit? Eat with their mouth open?
What are their most distinguishing features? Below I’ve written out a list of suggestions.