How to Track Character Information

For the past few weeks we’ve been discussing the various aspects of characters. It’s a lot of information to take in and some of you may be wondering how to keep it all straight. Tracking character information can be difficult and every writer has a different approach. Some may find it helpful to have detailed character sheets with all the backstory and hobbies written out. Others can keep track of it in their heads. If you are among the former group, this post is for you.

Way back at the beginning of this blog, I wrote a post about style sheets. To recap, a style sheet is a document that lists all the story details and style choices an author makes. It is a great resource for keeping details straight and ensuring consistency. If you only need a quick guide while writing, consider using the character section of the style sheet template.

If you want a little more space and direction while fleshing out and documenting character details, a character questionnaire is a great way to go. There are many character questionnaires floating around on the internet. But to save you some searching, here is one you can use as a starting point. This one covers the basics and allows lots of wiggle room in terms of what you want to include.

Of course, the questionnaire can be done on the computer or printed out as a hard copy depending on your preference. Alternately, you may want to consider researching novel writing software which often has built in systems for developing characters, or investing in a cork board and some index cards if, like me, you find it helpful to see everything at once.

There is no right or wrong way to track your character information. With the exception of a style sheet, chances are no one but you will ever see these documents so make them as sparse or detailed as you need (and a style sheet will only be seen by your editor if you choose to share it with them).

Do you have a good method of tracking character information that I haven’t mentioned? If so, let us know in the comments.

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