By the end of book 1 – Library of Time – I had about 30 names to remember. It helped that I picked most of them with a botanical theme in mind as that gave me some clues to remember the names. However, what really helped was creating character sheets in scrivener.
There’s a location in scrivener, down at the bottom left part of the screen, that says ‘Characters’. Inside you can add a page for each character, or group of characters, by location, and fill in some information about them. This is super helpful when coming to write the next chapter or even the next book. Some of the things I add for each character are:
- Name of the character
- Their nickname, if any
- What they look like – I try to find a stock photo, illustration or actor who looks a bit like them
- Where are they from?
- Where are they living?
- Character sketch
What motivates them? Their character (solemn, quirky, tricky, mischievous, lazy etc)
- What do they bring to the plot?
- How do they act when startled? When angry? When challenged?
- Their favorite color (shows up in colors they wear)
- Special abilities and role in the story
For what they look like, I don’t intend to cut and paste descriptions; that would be tacky and repetitive. However, I do want to know their hair and eye color, skin tone, general appearance and wardrobe. A friend said that characters need an ‘eye patch’, that is a particular element that identifies them to readers. Remember the ‘cigarette man’ from the X Files? James Bond’s tuxedo or his martini – shaken, not stirred? It can be subtle, but needs to be there. I remember reading a Kay Hooper novel back in the 1980’s – even now, I can tell you about the contents of a character’s purse, including the large-animal leash and tranquilizer gun.
Where a character comes from informs me about how they will act in a situation in the future. I want to jot down what they love, what they hate, what riles them and the kind of music they like to listen to. I may not use all of it in the story now, but in subsequent tales, those elements get sprinkled in to make the character more real.
What do you add to your own character sheets?