5 Reasons To Use Character Sheets #amwriting

This I believe: Most of what goes into character sheets should never appear in the book. A lot of what goes into character sheets has no relevance to the character’s attitudes or actions in the book. Some of what goes into character sheets will change as you write.

So why would I ever make character sheets?

1.) To stall. If you can’t start writing until you have your character sheets done, and you take a long time to do the character sheets, you can put off starting almost indefinitely. Mind you, this is not a good reason. In fact, this reason is the reason I start writing before I do my character sheets.

2.) To learn more about the character. How much do you need to know about your character? Some character worksheets I’ve seen are so detailed, they’re like Was his/her favorite uncle left-handed or right-handed? Seriously? This is important why? Still, knowing some of the underpinnings of a character can enrich your portrayal, even if you don’t use most of what you learn.

3.) To get plot ideas. Hey, wait a minute! What if it is important which hand his/her favorite uncle used? Why would that be important? Cool! scribble scribble

4.) To learn what your character is not like. The one time I tried making character sheets before I started the book, I was like, This character smokes. And the character was like, No, I don’t. And I was like, This character doesn’t smoke, this other character smokes. And that character was like, Like a chimney. Useful.

5.) To learn how your character sounds. My favorite part of character building is to ask the character ten questions to which I know the answers, and then ten questions to which I don’t know the answers, and write stream-of-consciousness answers to the second ten. Next week I’ll post some I’ve found illuminating.

What do you think about character sheets? If you like them, check out this Character Sheet Generator, including the comments, this Character Chart, this post on Using Character Sheets, and this search I did which turned up those links and more.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Think of ten questions to ask your main character to which you don’t know the answer.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “5 Reasons To Use Character Sheets #amwriting

  1. Jane

    February 2, 2015 at 10:30am

    I like #5 a lot. Since I learn about my characters by finding their voices in their dialogue, this woulld be a good way to add a character to a cccast of characters already established, and you ccccan makek sure their voice isn’t like anybody elsse’s. Some writers really suffer from this.

    NB: I ;ile yWriter5 because you can cram a lot of info about, well, everything in the book into the organically available tabs on places, things, people, timelilnles, etc.
    I really like yWriter! 😉

    Sssssorry about the xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx repititions, etc. I’ve got a new keyboard and haven’t set the touch yet.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 2, 2015 at 10:55am

      Oh, I’m sorry about the keyboard; I was having a Max Headroom flashback. heh

      Yeah, Bob Asprin was bad about many of his voices starting to sound alike as he moved through a series. Terry Pratchett is, too. Sound alike, think alike, act alike. Very disappointing and more than a little irritating.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. JazzFeathers

    February 8, 2015 at 5:17am

    Honestly, I’ve never written a character sheet, but I’ve written lots of character synopsis. I enjoy this a lot, because I’ve discovered so many things I didn’t know about my characters. That’s why I always think I also want to write character sheets of the characters that give me some trouble… still haven’t done it. Mhm…

    So I’m curious to see your next post 🙂

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 8, 2015 at 7:31am

      I hope it’s useful to you, JazzFeathers. Sometimes the simplest questions pull out the most interesting answers. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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