Saturday Exercises - Keeping Track of Characters

I've felt like I've lost my hold on my main character lately, like she went out for a walk and keeps calling to tell me she's coming back but never turns up at the front door.

*siiiiigh* If only!

I decided to go over my character charts.  I've talked about them before, but I think I'll do a refresher today!

I use spider diagrams to keep track of my character's personality traits, abilities, loves, faults and basic stats (age, height, hair colour, eye colour etc).  I use lots of colours so things don't get lost (and so my oh so rubbish attention span doesn't wander), and add to it as my character develops or the story expands.  It's so good to go back to this when I'm in the depths of editing and feel my characterisation is too weak.  With my character guide in place, I can add the important little touches and bring characters to life.

I like sketching my characters too, but only when my supremely temperamental internal artist agrees to work.  She doesn't like to.  She's quite stuck up and prefers to leave the creating to my author self, who's bouncy and cheerful and consumes huge quantities of tea, not to mention her love of stationary - don't let my writer self ANYWHERE NEAR ARTBOX EVER AGAIN, GOODBYE BANK ACCOUNT!


Use a BIG sheet of paper so you've got lots of room to expand.  A variety of inks will help keep different aspects of your character separate and easy to see.  If you can, pin them up so you can see them all the time.  Once mine have a home, I'll take a photo ;)

So, how do you all like to keep track of your characters?


  1. I like to use a spreadsheet. It's the same idea as your spider diagrams, but in something like Excel where I can list out the traits and notes. And, since I am usually an epic fail at using the proper size of paper, I like that there is endless space! ;) I love to use different colors too!

    When I was little, my friend and I used note cards that we kept in a little box to keep track of all of the personality traits of our toys. Each toy had a card with its important character traits and life events. It was all very serious stuff... how else could we keep everyone's storyline straight when we played? ;)

  2. Laura: I've always loved squishing writing onto paper, ever since I was little, which is why I go old school and use pens and paper ;)

    That is TOO CUTE!


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