Thursday, September 9, 2010

Operation Outline: Character Sheets

So. Outlines. Me likes them now. *cue death metal music*

I don't know how many plotters do it like this, but before I start my actual outline for the newest WIP, I'm making character sheets. 

A character sheet is a list of info regarding the characters in your story. There are tons of examples all over the Internet, but I'm using one I borrowed from super uh-may-zing YA author Kody Keplinger.

It goes a little like this:

Favorite Class
Favorite Food
Favorite Color
Favorite Book
Favorite Movie
Favorite TV Show
Celebrity Crush
Favorite Band/Artist
Theme Song
Who Would Play Him/Her In a Movie?

Kody used this template to come up with her main characters' personalities (and it TOTALLY paid off). I've added a couple things to her template, like Favorite Song (the character's theme song represents who they are, but their fave song is simply one they listen to all the time). 

Believe it or not, this sheet has helped me figure out how my characters differ from each other by likes/dislikes alone. I've only completed one character arc, and it's been easier than I thought--thanks to this sheet. 

So there you go, blogging buddies. My life has changed for the better. 

Dear Pantsers: sorry for sounding like a public service announcement for plotting. Feel free to flip me the middle finger. I won't mind.

Now tell me: do you have any outlining tricks you use that have helped your story?


  1. I would NEVER flip you off *diabolical laugh*. good stuff!

  2. Wow - impressive. I could never ever outline. I keep trying, but cant do it. These character sheets though - they look pretty cool!

  3. MANY years ago, a book came out that was essentially a series of questions that helped define who you are. Many of the questions were deep, some very difficult to answer - but all designed to draw out the essence of who you are. I copied every question into a word doc (after buying 10 copies of the book and realizing that wasn't cost effective) and TRY to fill the questions out for each of my characters. I'm not a plotter by nature, but I do enjoy filling out my character resumes.

  4. Hmm. Pre-dystopian I would have said no to planning and character sheets...not anymore.

    I love filling in character sheets. It really helps to get to know my characters. :)

  5. I'm a panster, I suppose but I find listening to outliners examples of how they do things utterly fascinating. So, you know, no middle fingers from me.

  6. I just completed character sheets for the current story I'm revising--it's actually pretty similar to this. Really helpful since the story has four different POVs; it helps me give them all a separate voice. :)

  7. I've done character sheets for one novel and I keep avoiding it for other novels. Sigh. I know it's important but I never have the right motivation to write on. I did outline a novel but I don't feel like writing it. Sigh. I'm being slackertastic right now.

  8. I think it does help to outline your characters - fleshes them out a bit more. My problem was the minute I started writing their whole personality changed with the narrative that their character outline went out of the window! LOL!!!

    I guess I am a panster! LOL!! But I love gorgeous outliners too!!

    Take care

  9. I am a PLOTTER all the way LOL. Couldn't do it without really. I don't know that I have certain questions that I ask but I probably have a sheet, at least, for each of my questions. Maybe I will do a post about what I ask my characters LOL. I scribble free form and then make sense of it on a clean sheet of paper.

  10. I've done similar character sheets after the story is finished, to help me keep details in line for revising/future installments. I know, I'm backward.

  11. I love the character sheet! What a good idea. I bet that would help with their different personalities. Hooray! Thanks Amparo! =)