Friday, May 4, 2012

Character Sheets: Fun or Intimidating?

I have a love/hate relationship with character sheets. I love getting to know my characters, and I know the predetermined details come in extremely handy during the writing process. But, they are so, so ... well, the phrase 'Just the Facts, Ma'am,' keeps coming to mind. Once I sit down – and force myself to fill in every minute detail about my character, from their date of birth to their favorite food - I love my character sheets! I keep them in a handy spot, and refer to them often - making sure I'm staying true to my character's nature. (So much so, that I've considered laminating them to make them last longer!)

However, I find that I still dread filling them out - only slightly less than those dreaded forms the dentist makes you fill out before you can proceed with a simple cleaning. Yeah, it's that bad.

So that's now got me thinking ... what could I do to make the process seem less like filling out something boring like a medical form? Well, here's another factoid - I also hate filing paperwork. You are so shocked, I'm sure . . .

The solution I found to cure my issues with filing, was to use the money I get back from my favorite office supply store's ink cartridge recycling program to buy folders, binder clips, binders and other colorfully designed supplies that appealed to me. Now I actually enjoy filing! And, by using my recycling money, I don't have any guilt for spending extra money on something attractive, instead of the standard blah supplies. (And yes, they make folder designs that appeal to a guy's personal style too - in case this is sounding all too girlie.)

Yeah, a few of you are now thinking I'm a little wacko. But because I know many writers are also visually stimulated, like the crazy graphic designer/writer that I am, I'm betting a lot of you also 'get it'. So I am considering spending some design time on creating visually appealing blank character sheets that I could share with my writer friends on my web site.

My idea so far, is to create a pair of sheets for each writing genre; either a male and a female sheet, or a protagonist and an antagonist sheet. Each pair would be designed to match a particular writing genre. So a mystery sheet might have fingerprints, evidence bags ... shoe prints or something of that nature surrounding the information area. Fonts would also be grungy and colored to match.

I also want to include a space for an example photo if someone has found one for inspiration, and I'm also hoping to make it so that it can either be printed and filled out by hand, or it can be opened and filled out on screen if people prefer to keep everything on their computer. We'll see on that one - I know it can be done in Acrobat Pro, but I have to figure out if it can be opened and altered in the free Acrobat Reader or another free Mac/PC application, so that more people could use it.

I'm hoping to make them interesting enough that if I wanted to keep them posted on my wall while I write they would be somewhat decorative. Which is why I'm thinking other writer's might find them inspiring too? I'll likely post them on my site for free or for a small amount like 25 cents each. Would anyone even be interested except me? Or am I really more of an oddball than I think I am?

Feel free to tell me if I am. I can take it.

(I'm trying to determine if it's worth spending the time on more than the genre I am personally working on - for my own use. Any input would be extremely helpful!)


  1. Just to clarify - I would only charge a few cents if I end up buying photos and illustrations to make them. I'm not looking at this as a money-maker LOL! Though if the venture drew traffic to my web site that would be nice I'll admit. :)

  2. I would love something like that. Hurry up! I'm dreading my current need to do them. LOL. Great idea!

    1. What genre version do you need, Karla? :) I'll try to let you know if I manage to get them done and posted soon!

  3. What genre version do you need, Karla? :) I'll try to let you know if I manage to get them done and posted soon!