Creating Character’s Physical Description, Part 2

Last week, I talked about creating your character’s physical description. It’s a struggle for me to make sure all of my characters end up looking different. I shared with you that I discovered I could fix that problem by exploring Pinterest. By using photos of actual people, I was able to look at a face instead of trying to visualize one in my mind. The pictures makes it easier for me when it comes time to write the story.

So, you’ve explored Pinterest and you have a board filled with every character in your book. It may be easy to keep track of which character has a scar on his left cheek if you only have 3 characters, but what if you have dozens of characters and 5 of them have different scars? It’s time-consuming and often frustrating to dig through binders or Pinterest boards to try to figure it out.

I am writing a series made up of 6 books, which means I have a lot of characters to keep up with. I needed a way to quickly reference which character had the scar. I found that a spreadsheet works best for me.

Below is an example of the type of spreadsheet I use. I simply list all of my characters down the left side and list all the options on the top. I then fill in the boxes as necessary.

Character Description Spreadsheet Writing Tips

I found this method also works great for character personality. You can list faults, occupation, important background information and whatever else you may need.

You can be as simple or elaborate as you want with this method. I have separate spreadsheets for main characters, supporting characters, and minor characters. For each group of characters I have one spreadsheet for physical appearance and one for personality. Then inside each spreadsheet I have multiple categories. Everything from hair color to hobbies.

(Side Note: I have my Xs color coded, green for males and purple for females. It makes it easier to see whether all my female characters have blonde hair or if all my males have green eyes.)

The possibilities are endless with this method. I love it because it is easy to tell at a glance which main character likes sailing and which minor character has a fear of water. No more digging through documents to find out that little piece of information I need. I simply open this one document, find the character, and follow it across to the information I need.

I would like to note that I still use a character questionnaire for each of my main characters. I use the questionnaire for a more thorough and in-depth look at my characters, while I use a spreadsheet to easily access any of the physical or basic personality information I may need while I’m in the middle of writing my first draft.

I hope these ideas help you as you create your unique characters to populate your story. Keep writing!

Have any tricks you’ve discovered to help you keep your writing organized? Share by commenting below!

Creating Character’s Physical Description, Part 1

When people read your story, the last thing you want is for them to get confused because all of your characters look the same. Plus, characters that all look the same can be boring.

I struggle with creating characters that all have different hair and eye colors, different body builds, facial structures, and so on. I also have a hard time visualizing the characters in my mind so that I can clearly describe their unique features to my readers.

In this first of a two-part post, I’m going to share with you how I find the right look for my characters.

It’s a simple answer: Pinterest.

Pinterest has quickly become a popular social media tool for people to organize things they find online, everything from DIY to photography and much more.

One day while I was on Pinterest, I realized it was the perfect place to find my characters. It is full of portraits of all kinds of people, and Pinterest makes it super easy to search and save pictures I like by pinning them to my boards.

So, I began searching. Some characters I recognized immediately, while others I had multiple choices before finally narrowing it down to one. Once the faces were assigned to a character, I pinned the pictures to one of my boards so I could always use the photo as reference.

Now I finally know what my characters look like, and I have a face to look at when I’m trying to describe my heroine’s sea blue eyes or my hero’s unruly blond hair.

If creating character appearance is something you have a hard time with, I encourage you to try this method.

Don’t know where to start? Check out my Pinterest boards by clicking below.

Male Characters

Female Characters

Do you have any methods that help you create the physical descriptions for your characters? Share by commenting below!

Have you ever been overwhelmed trying to keep track of your numerous characters’ appearances? Check back next Saturday to read Creating Character’s Physical Description, Part 2 where I will share how I keep my characters organized and easy to access.

Characters with Minds of Their Own

I’ve heard some people say that characters will write themselves. Just sit down with them and have a conversation with them. Let them tell you their hopes, dreams, and fears. Honestly, like it’s ever that easy! I find myself laughing at this idea. If only it happened that way.

For me, creating characters can be one of the hardest things about writing a story. Then again, what part of writing a story isn’t hard? Anyway, it’s challenging for me to create characters that are all different from each other. For whatever reason, I keep trying to create the same main character for every story. So, I have to work extra hard to make sure my characters don’t all start acting the same way.

Right now I’m working on a Fantasy Series. I’m creating six stories, figuring out how they link together, and trying to create characters for all six books. Since beginning this massive undertaking, it seems like I’ve had this whole “characters writing themselves” thing happen to me more than once.

My characters keep surprising me. At least, that’s what it feels like. Here I am writing about my newest story idea when suddenly I realize something new about my character.

For example, a few nights ago I was organizing my ideas about the different love stories in each book. Then all of a sudden I realized something shocking about one of my main characters. He falls in love with someone. This was shocking to me because he is actually my bad guy. He has always been the bad guy. It felt like I just discovered that this guy fell in love. It felt like that was a part of his past that always existed, instead of a part of his past that I created.

I’m beginning to understand what writers mean when they say let the characters tell their stories. Because when you’re writing about your character, and you suddenly come up with a crazy idea, it really does feel like you’re character told you about their little secret.

Have you ever had a similar experiance while creating your characters?