I was fairly reluctant to start creating character bios when I was writing Ascendance for the first time and a few other times as I rewrote and polished the story. However one of the problems I had when I was at this stage was consistency with my characters.
I would find that I had a character wearing a coat and then losing it for no reason later in the scene. Character’s eyes, mannerisms, and even speech patterns would change slightly. Preferences for food, likes, dislikes and even personality traits would change abruptly or disappear in general.
To say the least, it was frustrating and it needed to be addressed, just like the problems I had with outlining in this story, I needed to learn how to create & manage my characters better.
The answer that I came up with for this was a very basic character sheet. It had what you’d expect to find: Name, age, gender, eye color, height, weight, body style, clothing preferences, weapons (if applicable), roles in The Order (if applicable), personal views and philosophies. You get the picture. But I added a twist to this.
Since the characters change as the story progresses I created an extra section, right before the voice journals (I talked about that in a previous post). This section I called a character timeline. It allowed me to note out major and minor events for the character in question, track their feelings for changing situations and make sure I keep things consistent.
It helped. I didn’t overcomplicate the bio itself, I’ve seen some crazy detailed ones while reading about character development and management. Those didn’t fit well for me, so I didn’t use them. (Again something I always like to talk about and use, take what works, and leave the rest).
The game-changer for me in managing my character problems was the timeline. Besides allowing me to keep track of my characters, how they changed slightly over time etc… the timeline can and should be updated after every writing session so it kept things current and moving forward.
A bonus is that it helped me get back into the story after I had a break or had other projects to work on, so the active notes and timelines kept me on track and focused on the story at hand.
What are your guys’ thoughts on this? Getting organized does help some, and it makes getting back to the story a bit easier, especially if you jump around and write scenes out of order, another small thing I picked up. Give me your thoughts in the comments below or on my Facebook Author Page.