I promised we'd look at some simple forms, and we will, but first I'd like to explain my "Dear Diary" method.
There are two different writers who use character charts. Those that fill them out before they write the story, and those that fill them out as they write the story. I'm in the latter category. I tried to fill out a chart once, and found that everything changed when I wrote the story. But, if you in a third category where you never write down anything about your character, you need to send your content editor a big box of chocolates. I need to be sure my character's eyes stay green, his scar stays on the correct cheek, he doesn't switch from VW bug to a Lamborgini in one scene. As I write, when I get to something I know I'll need to remember, I open the Character Chart sheet and fill it in. If something changes, as it so often does, it's very easy to delete and type in something different.
This is a two column set-up. In column A, I list all of the things I'll need to know about my character, (and some things I don't need to know for every story, so those simply don't get filled in.) In column B is where I actually do the entering. I've taken this chart from several authors and made it my own. If someone sees that this looks way too similar to yours, please let me know and I'll either give you credit or take it off this blog.
Since you can't see the whole list, I'll put it here for you to enter into your own sheet:
Section 1 PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
Color/Style of hair
Scars/Body markings, etc.
Section 2 PERSONAL TRAITS AND CHARACTERISTICS
Sense of humor & type
Philosophy of life
Style of dress
Strongest character trait
Weakest character trait
*Character type (I'll explain this one below)
Section 3 CHARACTER'S BACKGROUND (Resume)
Section 4 PERSONAL POSSESSIONS
Description of home
Section 5 PLOT COMPLICATIONS
How it will get worse
How the character will change (often referred to as “character arc”)
Section 6 RELATIONSHIPS
Siblings and/or children
Enemies (and why)
Section 7 SPECIFICS
Sees self as…
Seen by other as…
*For Character Type go to: *http://www.tamicowden.com/archetypes.htm (click on "Heroes", "Heroines", and "Villains" at end of article.
If you'd like to keep track of your setting, this is also a great chart. I know I stole this from someone, but failed to put their name on it. If it's yours, please let me know.
Here are the categories for General Setting:
Name of Setting:
Characters Living in Region/Time Period:
Year or Time Period:
City and State:
General settings for this character:
Character's home surroundings:
City or Town:
City or Town of Business:
Type of Business:
Please note that you don't have to fill out every form or plot sheet that I'm including here. I don't do it all, but they are in my workbook if I need them.
This is one of the best forms I use. Have you ever written or read a story where all the character's names sound alike? Kathy. Debbie. Cindy. Or have all the same first initial? Jim, Jon, Joey. (Those are my hubby and two sons, by the way. In real life you can name like this them on purpose.)
As you can see by the chart, I list the alphabet in two columns. This way, I can see more of it on one screen. The next two columns over are labeled "NAME" and "WHO IS IT?" This last column helps to refresh my memory, which, if any of you know me, needs to be rebooted on occasion.
At the bottom of this chart, if you could scroll down, you'd see the same set up for "LAST NAMES."
That's it for the forms I use that I'm including in this tutorial. There is one other sheet that is very huge and not for the faint of heart. It's called "POST-IT NOTES" and, yep, that's exactly what it sounds like. We'll tackle this bad boy next week. I'll see if I can get it all in one post. If not, we'll have to do it in parts. Now that I've frightened you, let me say this: One part of this sheet is doable for the novice. If you can't handle any other part of it, please tune in for at least that part.