Hello everyone, it has been a while since I posted some advice for writers so I decided to share this little nugget with all of you. Character sheets are a pretty popular thing among writers regardless of their experience level and if you are a new writer and trying to decide if you need one, this may help you.
First things first. What are character sheets?
Newer writers may not be familiar with character sheets but they are a great help, especially to those with a grand plot planned. A character sheet is a template that outlines the important aspects of a character. A character sheet helps ensure that each character is unique and offers a reminder when you are far into your novel about how they act and react, from the way they speak to even the way they may carry themselves.
While I don’t recommend using a character sheet for every named character, they come in handy when plotting the personalities and behaviors of major characters and their counterparts (whether that be a villain or just a nemesis or enemy).
When should you use them?
There are many reasons to use a character sheet but for the sake of time, I’ll outline a few of the major ones.
If you have many named characters.
This is especially true if you have characters who are similar in one or more aspect. If their names are similar or if they act alike, you may want to map out their traits to make it easier for both you and the reader to differentiate between them. Even smaller things such as one of them having a tattoo or talking with an accent can be enough at times.
Additionally, if you have a lot of named characters but know which ones are going to be the most important to your story line, you should write out a character sheet for them. They are important so to ensure they stand out as a major player, you have to give them specific details and traits. Don’t worry, not everything you write on your sheet has to go in the novel but it will help you to understand their background and why they may react to certain situations different than most.
If you aren’t used to writing long works.
Short story writers sometimes find it challenging to create characters with long arcs and that’s when these templates come in handy. Generally speaking, in a shorter work you have to give us all necessary aspects in a very short length of time and taking a character and molding who they are over tens of thousands of words isn’t what they are used to.
When working on character development.
Sometimes you may read your masterpiece and realize that one or more of your characters is painfully static. It’s even worse when you didn’t intend for that to happen. If this occurs, I suggest writing out a character sheet of these characters, detailing who they are, where they come from and where you want to take them. Then, as you edit your work, change a few of their reactions or actions, the way they talk or smile or react to what someone said. And as you go along it will be easier to take your static character and make them fully developed.
When mapping out complex character relationships.
If you have a complex relationship it is definitely in your best interest to write out a character sheet. If character A is B’s lover and C’s cousin but C is in love with B and A really is in love with D who happens to be dating E who is the bully of B and C, it will be in your best interest to write all that down so that you don’t get confused. Remember, when the author is confused, so is the reader.
Where can I find one?
Now, this is where it gets fun. I personally, tend to create my own. I put down their name, any significant physical features as well as important character traits. I also put down their relationships, such as if this character is another character’s enemy for reasons unknown. I try not to create the whole character through the character sheet, instead I just use it to give me a rough sketch to try and stick to so that at no point in my work does a character seem unauthentic or has some large personality switch that doesn’t fit.
Of course, there are many ways to get ready made character sheets as well. They range from being pretty sparse to asking you everything about their background including their mother’s maiden name. At first, those super in-depth ones look pretty intimidating but for those who are writing a complex story it may be what you need. Just to help you out, I have posted links to a couple of character sheet templates below!
I hope this blog clarified some things for the writers out there. If you are a writer, do you use character sheets? Have you found them helpful? Or did they just hinder you because you felt you couldn’t change things up? I’m super curious so let me know down below in the comments!
If you aren’t a part of my bookish family yet, we’d love to have you. Just follow this blog! You can also check me out on Goodreads and Instagram to keep up with everything I’m doing including my WOC Writing Circle and any bookish giveaways I may be having. Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be back on Friday with a book review of one amazing novel. so don’t forget to check it out!