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.
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!