Keeping track of your characters
|Credit | Flickr Keyofnight|
When she returned to edit her work, she could review the pages and center herself in her characters' lives.
But what if you are, like I am, not as meticulous at tracking your character details? In Margo's question posted last week, she wondered what are some good ways to keep track of character details? I have a couple ways that I keep track, but they are generally not cut-and-paste and a three-ring binder.
First, I find that with my work, I like to start writing first. After I've written several pages, I backup and develop my characters' personalities outside of my story. Sometimes I'll take out an unlined piece of paper and sketch what I think my main characters look like. But mainly I will build out the characters by building their bio.
Some writers prefer doing this electronically (in a spreadsheet, for example). I prefer to write about my characters in a handmade spreadsheet on a piece of notebook paper. Pen to paper allows me to doodle and write in the margins--something I feel is more free flowing and creative.
What do I write down? Here are some suggestions to start with (some more obvious than others):
- Age (this will color a lot going forward)
- Eye and hair colors and other physical traits
- Favorite book or music
- Likes and dislikes (foods, movies, cars, clothes)
- Major motivation(s)
- Describe what is in his/her pocket/purse
What characteristics do you generally come up with first in your writing?
Also, if you have a question about editing (or writing), ask in the comments section and I'll (try to) answer you in my next post.
Elizabeth King Humphrey received her master's in creative writing from UNC Wilmington. One of her professors, Clyde Edgerton, has written some very colorful characters--check out his work if you haven't had a chance.