Since I noticed that a lot of people within the community really dislike writing IC samples, I decided to make a guide that breaks the process down + potentially make it easier for those who found it difficult before. I threw this together rather quickly, so I’m really, really sorry if you find that it isn’t as organized + spiffy as my previous guides.
First all of all, let’s get into why you should write an in-character sample.
Next, we should get into the steps of writing the sample. As I said before, IC samples are all about showing understanding. It’s really easy, and there are only like 3 steps. Stick to this and you can write an IC sample whenever the heck you want. That being said:
- Read the bio. I don’t care if you’ve already read it. Read it again, take your time. Open a word document and begin listing the personality traits that you notice about this character. For example, let’s review this bio: [credit to my angel, Jovi, it’s from her old RP!]
Anyone who’s met Cooper Clarke could easily agree that she’s truly one of a kind, and there’s no one on this Earth quite like her. Always the spunky type, Cooper was always finding herself in sticky situations but like the cunning girl she is, she managed to fight her way through each and every one. Raised in the bitter cold of Alaska, Cooper felt as if she was entrapped in a cage, a bird just waiting to be set free. It was hard enough being in such an isolated state in America, but knowing there was so much more out there that her ocean-blue eyes were just waiting to see. It was a big dream of hers, one that always seemed so close yet so far, to set foot on the grounds of the sunny state of California. Ever since she was a little girl, she knew she was destined for more than what her parents forced her to settle for. The people she attended school with might tell you she had a bit of ice inside her soul, which in many ways, was true. Cooper was cursed with a tough attitude, ready to back-talk anyone who dared to cross her, which eventually developed into issues with authority. The blue-eyed brunette simply despised the idea of conforming to another person’s demands, she never backed down when it came to what she believed in. Cooper was, and still is, extremely stubborn when it comes to accepting when she’s wrong. According to her, there’s a very thin line between facts and opinions, one that at times her eyes tend to skim over. Despite her tendency for sassiness, Cooper somehow makes herself extremely likable and easy to get along with— that is, of course if you stay on her good side. Once you get on her bad side; however, you’ll never see the light of day again. Once you lose her trust, you’re going to have to move mountains in order to get it back.
Though it may seem otherwise, Cooper is wholeheartedly grateful for the way she was brought up, regardless of the fact she completely hated the living conditions at times. Her parents definitely treated her with all the love and support she could’ve ever asked for, but in spite of everything she had, and how much she appreciated it all, there was still a certain hunger for something more. And that hunger alone was enough to cast her away into the unknown. It was the journey of a lifetime— she and a pair of her closest friends decided to make a run for it. It was a sort of pact between the trio, and as they backpacked their way through Canada, as soon as they made it to the mainland, they split up, never to come in contact again. Cooper wasn’t exactly bothered by it, knowing it would end up this way. She wanted to go to California, and they wanted to try their luck in Las Vegas. Saying goodbye didn’t bring on even a single tear, besides, Cooper wasn’t the type for sentiment. The girl never felt the need to get attached to anything, let alone anyone. Until she met the person who would become the only one she allowed herself to open up to— her best friend who would be her partner in crime around Venice Beach— Giselle. Together, they’re a force to be reckoned with, and only the brave would dare to get in their way.
Now that you’ve read that word-for-word, we can literally pull it apart and pin down every aspect of this character’s personality. This is how I go about it in my word pad:
- Spunky: courageous and determined.
- Courageous: not deterred by danger or pain; brave.
- Adventurous: likes to explore, see new things.
- Determined: sets goals, does everything to achieve’em.
- Tough: mentally and physically strong enough to withstand adverse conditions.
- Obstinate: stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or action.
- Sassy: active, outgoing, lively, bold, and full of spirit; sarcastic.
- Likable: pleasant, friendly, and easy to like.
- Unsentimental: doesn’t like getting attached, faces facts realistically.
- Logical: characterized by clear, sound reasoning.
So that’s basically what I do, I just list their personality traits and write the definition beside it.
This is pretty much the most important part of writing the IC sample — having an extremely strong grasp on their personality. Your sample should show that off.
- Now that that’s done, you’re going to take a moment to just briefly map out their backstory. I personally don’t feel it’s as important as everything else, given the backstory is just their past and your job is to bring the character forward from there but regardless, you do need toknow it because it will be important in certain situations your character might be in that might trigger some kind of feelings or reaction. Say, your character was eleven years old when they went on a cruise with their parents + grandparents + siblings. The ship sinks in the middle of the ocean and the whole family is mauled to death by sharks. I’d take it said character would not like ships or cruises anymore, maybe they’d have a dislike for oceans and sharks now. Maybe they’d be fearful, or maybe they’d have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Maybe they still do. Maybe they have nightmares about it even at their current age. Hopefully you see where I’m going with this. It’s a cause + event kind of thing.
Anyways, for Cooper, there isn’t really much of a backstory. Her bio is mostly focusing on her personality so I can’t go into that. All I can tell you is that small towns don’t really seem to be her thing. So with living in one, she’d probably hate it + when choosing where to live, I could see her moving to a big city like New York or Los Angeles. Somewhere where there’s a lot to do, a lot to discover.
- Muster up a few writing prompts for your character, choose one + get to writing. This is really, really, really easy and I can’t believe people have such a hard time with this, honestly.
I say the easiest thing to do when writing an IC sample is to set it in the past — or just start there, and base the sample off the backstory if their is one.
I’ll give you an example of what I mean when I say base the sample off the backstory + try to help you understand a little better.
For Cooper, you could write about the day she chose to leave Alaska to go to California. In the para, you’d write about what she’s doing/who she’s with when she suddenly gets the idea to leave. How she goes about it, like does she just pack her things + leave right then and there? Does she wait a few days? Does she write a note to her parents first? Her friends? What does she pack? How does she feel? Is she excited? Is she sad?
This is really where her personality would come into play; when you’re answering these questions in your para. With her personality in mind, I see it as she’s excited to be leaving + she does it right then and there. It’s a very spontaneous move.
Maybe you wanna go on to write about how she feels when she departs from her friends, and finally arrives to California. Does she miss them? (Probably) Is she sad? (No) Is she lost? (Obviously) Does she care? (Not exactly)
If you want though, you can take a different approach and write in the present. Maybe she’s been in California for a few months + she’s really having the time of her life, despite not really having a home. You could go into her thoughts about what life has been like in the past few months, and how grateful she is to have new friends + live in a new environment.
Basically, your focus is to choose a point in their bio + write based off of that. It’s always easiest to start in the past, especially if there’s some kind of traumatic event because that’ll have you to write about how they felt + acted back then, how they act now, if there were any changes in their personality since then, and how they feel towards the situation/related-situations now.
Like with the character I made up from earlier who’s family died on a cruise, you’d start your para sample off with a flashback, maybe? Perhaps your character is sitting around, watching a movie when a scene involving a cruise ship comes on + the memories of that night come flooding back. In the flashback, you want to be really descriptive. You want to describe what they did + how they felt at the time, and when the flashback comes to an end, you want to describe how they’re feeling right then + there. Describe how that movie scene makes them feel, and how they feel about the tragedy. Are they still as sad as they were as a child? Does it not hurt as much? Do they cry? Do they get angry? Basically all of that would depend on their personality. If they’re impassive + surrounded by people, chances are it stings but they don’t really show emotion towards it, meaning they don’t cry. If it really hurts them, maybe they’ll excuse themselves + leave the room. If they’re emotional, they’d probably break down + bawl their eyes out at the reminder. If anything, you can skip the flashback + just go straight into writing about the aftermath as that’s what’s really important. Your sample needs to show how you’re planning to play this character after they’ve dealt with whatever they dealt with — or whatever they’re currently dealing with, and like I said, their personality is pretty much the most important thing.
If for whatever reason, your character doesn’t have a backstory and the bio focuses on their personality, put them in a situation when they’re challenged + their persona is brought to life. For example, if you’re playing an arrogant, snobby nerd, you could put him/her in a situation where their arrogance comes out. Maybe they’re in an argument with someone who’s popular + while they’re rubbing their popularity in your character’s face, your character is rubbing their intelligence + good grades in their’s. And I mean really, really rub it in their face. They’re arrogant + snobby afterall, your character needs to make it known that they’re better than the opposing person. That would also give you a chance to get into why they study so much, especially if it’s not included in the bio. You could express your character’s feelings towards studying. Do they actually like it, or do they hate it but do it because they don’t have anything else to do? What drives them to get good grades? What are their favorite subjects? What are their goals + dreams? What do they plan to do once they’re done with high school or college? Do they enjoy being a nerd, or do they secretly want to be popular? How do they feel towards people with a higher social status than them? These’re the kinds of things you want to talk about in your para and since there’s no backstory, you can definitely make one up + that would be a good time to do so.
With all of that being said, I’m not sure if I can make myself any more clear. This guide can’t tell you exactly what to write, because I don’t know the character you’re applying for but it can help you to break everything down to make it easier. If you’re applying for a character and you need help coming up with prompts, just send me an ask + I’ll be glad to help you out.
- How To Write An Impressive Para Sample.
- Describing A Person: Adding Details.
- Tone, Feelings, Emotions.
- Be More Descriptive.
- How To Lengthen Short Paras.
- Writing An Intense Scene.
- 5 Tips On Writing An IC Sample.
- Body Language Masterlist.
- Writing Resource List.
- Masterlist of Guides + How To’s.
- The Ultimate Writing Resource Masterlist.