If you’ve done any research about writing a novel, one of the first pieces of advice is to KNOW your characters. Many blogs, websites, how to books offer a variety of character questions that they feel you should answer about EACH of your characters.
These all vary – some list a few questions and some have over 100!
When I first started writing, I tried to answer ALL of those questions for EACH of my characters… and it was difficult even before I injured my wrist and was unable to type/write for over a year.
SO… when I picked back up my writing and started working on two more novels plus my original- I knew I needed a better system.
Here came RESEARCH!!
Before I get into the details you might be asking yourself, Why do I need character sheets?
Well, character sheets are useful for:
- Keeping up with characters physical descriptions from book to book
- To make sure the characters don’t have the same personality and look
- KNOWING my characters- helps prevent writer’s block
- Easy, quick access instead of flipping through novel pages to confirm information
- Information for future characters
- General organization
… Just to name a few reasons.
I realized I needed a template in a computer program that would let me type my information, and easily print to keep in my Grace Encyclopedia Notebook (POST HERE).
Through trial and error- this is what I can up with to keep my hundreds of characters straight. I currently have mentioned 130 characters in over 4 novels. Wheww! No wonder I need organization.
Three Character Categories
- Detail Character Sheet:
- Character Sheets for Main Female/Male Characters of each novel. These characters could be major characters in other novels.
- Detail Character Sheets are two pages with more background detail, including dreams, motivations, and vulnerabilities.
- Each sheet must be completely filled in
- Major Character Sheet:
- Character sheets for every major character, including “villains,” future main characters, and characters that help move the story along.
- Gives more detail into personalities to bring out in storytelling
- Minor Character Sheet:
- Bare minimum information, some fields even left blank if not needed
- EVERY name mentioned has a minor name listing and details of why it’s used in the specific novel
- Minor Characters sometimes only have a first or last name
- Try to be consistent with labeling
- Section for notes
I created my templates in Word because that’s the program I do ALL my writing in and I found YouTube videos to show how to create templates that work for my needs.
Benefits of a template in Word:
- Don’t have to keep writing and rewriting changes
- Backups saved for my work if my notebook is damaged
- Easy to make changes, updates to each character sheet
- Minor characters easily become major and detail characters
- Keep in alphabetical order for easy search
In Grace Notebook, each book has its own tab with Female and Male character sheet included
In Grace Notebook, the last section is divided alphabetically and major character sheets go at the beginning, before the minor character sheets
In Grace Notebook, minor character sheets are in the alphabetized tabs, and then sorted by book number
This post gave you a glimpse into my organization for characters that works for my process. I hope I gave you a few ideas you can use in your own writing. Please click here if you would like to view an example of the major character sheet for two characters in Restoring Grace.
The most important take away – do what works for you. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else! You don’t have to do what everyone else does.
Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,