So you’re four days into your book-in-a-week challenge and you’re tooling along great. Except you get to page 97 and you suddenly can’t remember if your hero has green eyes or blue eyes.
And did you describe your heroine’s hair as ash brown or dishwater blond?
Oh, and what about the klutzy neighbor you introduced on page 36? What was his name again?
Myra’s handy-dandy character spreadsheet to the rescue!
Some of our visitors may remember my Novel Planning Excel Workbook from last summer.
Since then, I’ve added one more spreadsheet, this one for tracking character information. (See download instructions at the end of this post.)
One way to use the chart is to fill most of it out before you begin writing, but you can also add to it as you discover more about your characters--or add new characters--during the writing process. If you need a different row heading to keep up with details specific to this book, or additional character columns, just use Excel’s “insert row” or “insert column” commands wherever you need them.
And the really cool part is that your character descriptions are now all right here in one convenient file, along with all the other vital information about your work-in-progress.
Having your important character descriptions listed side by side helps you see at a glance if too many characters look alike, sound alike, or otherwise cry out for greater variety. It may even help you brainstorm opposites (backgrounds, beliefs, quirks, secrets) to more effectively portray your hero/heroine or protagonist/antagonist conflicts.
Remember, any writing tool is only effective if it helps you write. And every writer is different. The more you write, the more you’ll learn about your personal organizational style--which methods help you get the book written, and which methods make you want to bang your head against your keyboard and scream.
So don’t get bogged down by the details or the pressure to fill out endless forms. If a system isn’t working for you, modify it to suit your personal style and needs. Or abandon it altogether and try something else.
Now get back to that WIP! It’s Thursday already, and you’re burnin’ daylight!
You can download Myra’s entire Novel Planning Excel Workbook here. Each time you start a new workbook for a WIP, be sure to use the “save as” command and rename the workbook to match your WIP title. That way, you’ll always have a clean master workbook for beginning the next project.
And don’t forget, Myra will be giving away a copy of One Imperfect Christmas to one of today’s Seekerville visitors!