I’m working on characters right now, and it made me think (yet again) of how utterly useless most of the available resources are. Most of them make the mistake of being incredibly exhaustive–and tend to think that this is actually a good thing. I ask you, is it so important to know a character’s marital history or military experience that you need this question/field written on every character biography you fill out and keep in notes? Not if you tend to write YA paranormal high school romances.
Of course, not every field is supposed to be filled out. But still. Many people are completionists by nature, and if there is a question on one of these profile sheets, they will answer it. Heck, I’m like that. It bugs me not to just answer the question, even if its presence on the sheet annoys the crap out of me. I also hate to answer things too briefly, but that might just be my problem.
Too many people focus on asking as much as possible, as if that won’t just fatigue the person seeking to use the offered resource. So I thought I would help out people who are more like me, and pin down just what is really necessary. With notes.
FIELDS BEGIN HERE
Name (for relevant titles or nicknames, either append to this field or create a new one)
Age (only if it varies among cast. if all cast are same age group, keep track of that in general notes)
Physical appearance (whatever you will actually need to know or describe, from build to distinguishing marks. can be long or short)
Role in the story
Good traits (be as vague or specific as needed)
Flaws (same here)
Motivations (maybe fears too, if they’re going to come up)
And then anything else that’s relevant, like backstory things that you’ll have to keep straight. I’d put something like that under Notes or Miscellaneous, if I had them at all. As with anything, this can be changed, reworded, and even turned into an exhaustive mess if that’s what people just have to have. I’m just tired of it.
Oh yeah, and then there are obvious things that are story-specific, like “Super Powers” or “Alias”. I dunno. I have to stop here or I might start babbling.