Character Record

I never used to do this, but for the last four or five stories I’ve written I started keeping a booklet of information for each story. I mentioned this a bit in my previous post about resources.

For TAK, I’ve got more than that. Right now I have a booklet with character descriptions for all my major and sometimes minor characters. Basics like eye colour, skin tone, hair colour and length, body type and height are recorded for each character. Their name and age heads the top of the description. That used to be it. As I’ve been writing and honing my craft my resources have grown with me. Now my character descriptions have more information. They contain the types of clothes the character may wear on a regular basis; do they wear boots or shoes? Leggings? Tunics or shirts? Colour preferences? A character in TAK wears glasses. So I’ve recorded the shape and colour of his glasses. Sometimes I’ll put in some information about their background or little blips about their personality. A character in TAK, Gideon, doesn’t speak much. Read that as hardly ever. I made a note of that in his record.

Sometimes when I’m writing if I bring up a character I haven’t used in a while I might forget what they look like. Usually the little details like hair and eye colour. I find these records helpful in that they are separate and keep me from searching back through hundreds of pages just to find the information I’m looking for.

When I would write when I was younger, it was common for characters to change eye colour or hair colour. I would reread what I had written and realize the character had changed personalities somewhere along the line. This is obviously not good.

The book for TAK is way more involved than any other before. Not only do I have character descriptions, I’ve started writing the background of the world within it. In TAK there are four countries: Byrnan, Hieros, Haima and Allos. Each country has a ‘speciality’ and the people from each country are slightly different in terms of mentality, skin colour and talents. For example, Hieros is a country steeped in art. It is one of the southern countries and it’s people have an olive skin tone. They produce magnificent pieces of art such as paintings, fabrics, architecture, music and so on. I’ve also drawn a suuuuuper crude map in my booklet. I am not a cartographer and this will most likely not make it into the book itself. It’s for personal reference so I can remember where the countries are located, where the major cities that are mentioned in the story are located and what the terrain looks like. In keeping with Hieros, it’s very flat. Lots of grass and open plains. Hieros is also known for it’s food production.

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Don’t judge my lack of mapping skills

As you can see, it’s not professional, but it serves it’s purpose.

The problem I sometimes run into is running out of book before I’m done with everything. This means I have to transfer all the information into another book. I write everything by hand in this book and I’m not in the mood to switch to digital. The story itself is being typed on a computer, but I just can’t get behind the idea of writing this information in a word document as well.

What things do you do to keep your writing on track?

Posted by Sarah Jayne

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