Writer: Character Guides

I’ve recently taken to writing out guides about my characters. Something to keep their names, descriptions, and relationships straight. I use a spreadsheet in Excel.

I never used to be so – plotter? Planner? I used to just write by the seat of my pants. I’ve discovered I like planning. I like organizing, something I’m good at. Actually, something I might be too good at.

Planning or plotting can get in the way of writing. Easy to fall into the trap of feeling you’re doing something. Think running on a treadmill going nowhere fast.

Now, I haven’t made my guides for every story, yet. What I’m thinking I’ll do is create a standard chart, the master file, with just the immediate information and then add to it. Maybe even limit my time to ten to fifteen minutes at a time.

The basic information needed are: name, gender, age, hair and eye colouring, body shape, employment, and relationship to each other.

Why employment? The one thing that bothers me for some books and TV shows is how the characters afford what they have when they never seem to work. Besides rarely needing the toilet. Also, different jobs mean meeting different environments.

What information do you think should be included in your guide?