Character Spreadsheet

Jul 24, 2013 by

I kinda felt bad a few weeks ago when I said that to write emotional scenes you’d need to know your characters and leaving it at that; it wasn’t about character development, which is why I left it but it seemed like if you don’t know your characters well enough I was saying ‘Too bad! So sad…’

So I’m going to share an idea I got from Gail Carson Levine┬áthat has helped a lot.

The first thing I do when I make a new character is take everything I know about them to the Character Spreadsheet.

Making a form for your character may be simple but it’s also the best way to start. You may already be familiar with this from RPGs but basically you make a list with as many things as you can think up (and they don’t all even have to be relevant because the more you know the better) and be as detailed as possible. Here’s the one I use (except mine is in a Microsoft Excel document but I don’t know how I’d show you that) :

Name: (I only add characters that have one, makes things easier.)

Nickname:

Species:

Gender:

Age:

Appearance: (Which I like to order skin, hair, eyes, extras. Whatever order you go in it’s good to always keep the same one, less confusing and makes sorting so much easier.)

Occupation: (You can be lenient with this, apparently I’ve included pirate captains, witches, superheros and a ninja assassin on mine.)

Quote: (This one’s mainly just for fun.)

Family: (I always include their name and how their related.)

Friends:

Home:

Abilities: (I actually use this for super/magic powers but it good be used to say your character is a good cook or a swimmer etc.)

Likes:

Dislikes:

Items Always carried: (Might not sound important but it’s actually a lot of help sometimes.)

Other Bits: (For anything else you want to include about them, I mainly include personality traits and things they’re good at. I’m also a little inconsistent like I put that one boy wants to be a knight but I don’t put what most characters want, then again if I did then I could add that separately. I guess I only put what’s really important to the character here but if you can do it differently.)

Role: (Star, support, character or bit.)

Story: (Because I put every character in the same file, then add story specific ones as needed.)

Try to fill in as much as possible and remember that everything can be changed as needed.

Of course you can add or take away from my list, whatever fits you. ┬áPossible things you could add to your list are: Goal, Alignment (good, bad, neutral), Personality (although I find this one hard to fill in because sometimes it’s hard to sum them up and I might put something like ‘optimistic’ then find out that they only are half the time, then what do you do?), Strengths, or Weaknesses. In fact I probably should go add those to mine…

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