Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Character Sheets

Every novel contain dozens of characters, from the main character without whom there would be no story to the checkout clerk who might not even be mentioned in the story. Then there are the faceless crowds - everyone attending the same school or church, living in the same town or city.

The best method for distinguishing between major or minor characters and background characters is whether they're named or not. One exception to this is when you write from the mystery villain's POV - he (or she) never names himself.

You should know a great deal about any character appearing frequently in your writing. I make character sheets to keep all this info straight. I start with the basics - age, hair color and style, eye color - and move on to more complex stats. Are they lanky, petite, or stocky? Do they talk a lot or not at all? Are they impulsive? What is their educational and religious background? Who are their friends/enemies and why? I leave a blank area at the bottom for misc. info - the why behind the person they are, what's happened in their lives so far.

I made up a sheet on the computer with the most pertinent questions, then I copy it for each character I want to profile. If the families of the main characters don't come into the picture much, I make one sheet for each family in addition to profiles for select members. This helps me make sure the families are genetically correct as well - no brown-eyed children of two blue-eyed parents, unless they're adopted.


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