I have tried to avoid doing character sheets for a REALLY long time. It’s not that I am lazy. I’m passionate and excited about my stories and characters. So coming to the conclusion I need to go back and interview my characters has been a bit bitter sweet. It’s painful, taking ages, and I am reluctant to do it. However, doing it has led to some really awesome character tidbits, potted histories and development of juicy subplots.
No one likes to admit they were wrong, I was desperate to just write the damn story. But I was wrong. The problem was, without the minute detail of a characters life, my story just wasn’t right. It was missing full, deep, rounded and detailed characters that bring texts to life. It’s those details, like the 50pence piece that reminds her of the summers she spent with her now deceased father. She carries that 50pence in her pocket everywhere she goes to remind her to never given up the search for his murderer. It’s those things you need. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure you can weave them into a story as a free writer, but not me. I got some detail in there, but I missed glaringly obvious things, like the fact that my antagonists twin sister actually hated him. What do you know – commence a whole other subplot and set up for book two. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t started these interviews.
Now, I have looked at, read, and digested approximately eight trillion character sheets. Ok, maybe one or two less than that. But still. I’ve read a lot. I’ve even downloaded, pinched and plagiarised my fair share. But for life nor money, I couldn’t find one that worked. There was always something missing, or questions that annoyed me. I felt like I already knew the basics – hair colour, eye colour, name and so on, aren’t those the obvious bits? We all know those details about our characters. Those details give me nothing more than a sketch, an outline and the surface of a character.
If I want the depth I need to write a publish worthy character then those questions just ain’t cutting the mustard. I’ve been looking for something more. Deeper questions. Those questions that get to the core of someone.
- What or who would your character kill, or lie, or cheat for?
- How do you react when someone you love hurts you?
- Or how do you process emotion generally?
- Who would you call in the middle of the night for help?
- Who are your positive relationships with – or negative ones?
- There are of course the other questions like, whats in your refrigerator, and what talents do they have? But you can see all of that in the template.
I thought I would add my template for you all to use. It is of course, created by me, and therefore I could well have left out obvious questions that would help form well rounded characters. I would be interested in your thoughts, do you like it? have I missed things? will you use it? I will update the template with any of your feedback and will re post for your use.
And when I finish filling it in I will try and share one with you too.