This week, I thought I’d give you all a glimpse behind the scenes, so to speak, and share my character sheet.
This is the same sheet I use for each and every character I create.
For my main characters, I fill this out either completely or nearly completely. For minor characters, I’ll fill out what I think I need to begin and add to it as I go.
This is the character sheet for my main character in “The Price of Power”, Elise.
Not everything mentioned in the character sheet actually makes it into the story. Some of it doesn’t need to be included because it doesn’t add anything to the story – Elise’s last name, for example. Other things I decided to leave out for various reasons.
In the interest of not spoiling anything, I’m going to be extra harsh in redacting anything on the sheet that might be spoilery.
Like most things, my character sheet begins with a name…
(The name usually isn’t the absolute first thing I need when creating a character. It is one of the first things, however. I’ll hit a point where I simply can’t go on without having a name and I’ll sit with Scrivener’s Name generator and randomly generate names until something clicks. I’ve got files on my laptop with names parts of names, etc)
What do you know?
(This is where a character starts. I’ll brain dump the things I “Know” about the character. This is the part of the sheet that undergoes the greatest degree of change as I move along)
- Moon Mage
- Most prized possession is a telescope
- Barely 5 feet tall
- Mouse brown hair
- Poor daytime eyesight
- Excellent nighttime eyesight
- Glasses – wire framed (In the end, I decided to leave the glasses on the cutting room floor)
- Would prefer to be nocturnal—but can’t
- Carries 8 amulets (On the original sheet, I spelled out each of these 8 amulets. In the story, I only mentioned 2: Elise’s Prime Amulet – which turned out to be different than what I originally came up with, and another that wasn’t even one of the original 8. I redacted the list.)
- She is much more than she appears and she cultivates this image
- Lives in southern Texas (I ended up changing her home to the Louisiana Enclave)
- Light brown is a color associated with her
- She has been trained in Savage-Chi. Because she is a Moon Mage, she has also been trained to fight while relying on senses other than sight.
- Her Book of Workings is readable only by moonlight. (I thought this was pretty cool but, ultimately left it out of the story. Sometimes you gotta kill your darlings, people.)
- Her mage skin glow intensity varies. During the day, it is barely visible. It intensifies at night and according to the phase of the moon. Under a new moon, it isn’t much more visible than it is during the day. During the full moon, the glow is bright enough to read by.
- Weapons – 2 blades – Kukri
What do you think of when you think about Elise?
(These are the first thoughts/feelings I get when I think about the character)
Small – petite
Traits and Tags
(These would be words that I’d insert in the prose to associate with Elise. Not as much room to include them in a short story, but I wanted to have them down)
Describe Elise in a single word
Describe Elise in 50 words
(This is a hard limit. 50 words, no more no less.)
Elise would prefer to go unnoticed and she cultivates that image. She keeps most of who she is under the surface. She is protective of her group and her friends respect her quiet competence. This does not make her a pushover. She can be forceful if she needs to be.
Would Elise agree with your description?
(Not all of my characters do…)
For the most part, yes.
How would Elise describe herself in 50 words?
(This and the previous 2 questions are important. They help me to get my head around the character. 50 words. No more, no less.)
I’m not trying to hide anything. I am who I am and I don’t toot my own horn. That doesn’t make me weak. I get my job done and, if I can help my friends afterward, I’ll do that too. But I won’t let them walk all over me either.
What are three things that are important to Elise?
Why are these things important?
Her Telescope is important because she can use it to more quickly charge her amulets. It also gives her a power High, the sensation of which she is becoming addicted to.
Her Friends are important, because they are the closest thing to family that she has.
Her Amulets are important because her stored energy drains from her during the day. They level the field for her.
What is Elise’s Story Goal?
(This is just to get me started. Sometimes it stays the same, other times it changes)
Elise wants to get to the observatory at College Station to see if she can draw power through the telescope there.
What did Elise want prior to the story starting?
A pleasantly exerting trip into the wilderness, the chance to explore a site that hasn’t seen another human for decades.
What else does Elise want?
She wants to shift to a nocturnal lifestyle.
How do these two things conflict (VERY IMPORTANT)
(Internal conflict is tasty, folks)
Traveling in the wilderness – anywhere outside of Enclave – alone is dangerous and foolish. She needs other folk for protection and most folk fear the dark of night and she is often forced to keep to their schedule.
What is between Elise and what she wants?
(Other items in this list were redacted)
What is Elise afraid of?
(This one is also very important)
Losing her power
What are 3 things Elise likes to do?
Practice Savage Chi and Savage Blade
Watch the night sky
What is Elise’s favorite word?
What Kind of Music does Elise like?
What sound does Elise love?
What sound does Elise hate?
What is in Elise’s pockets right now?
A multi-tool (like a Leatherman)
And there you have it. I’ll make changes for individual characters – One of the characters in this story actually has a song associated with them. That hasn’t happened before or since, but I sure as hell wrote it down on that sheet when it came to me.
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