Creating A Character Database

I create characters for practice. I don’t throw them out, I keep them. I do short character charts on them in a word processor. Then I store them in a rough database. OK, I stick the documents in a folder on my computer. It functions as a database of extras for my stories. These are the minor characters, the town gossip, the mail person, a clerk in a store, you know the character. These are the characters that don’t have a starring role in a story.

A character database can be as low tech as a notebook with hand written notes on a character. All you need to note down is the character’s name, physical characteristics and any other pertinent information you might need for a particular character. I write detailed character sketches in MS Word by answering the questions in a character chart for main characters. I only do the first few sections for minor characters.

It’s a good idea to put them all in one place, so a folder on my computer functions as my database. This is especially useful for characters I use in a series. I create sub-folders for the series and that’s where I put the main characters. Characters I haven’t used in anything stay in the main folder and only go to a sub-folder when they are used – unless they are a first name very minor character who only has a couple of jobs to do in a story. Then they stay in the main folder. That’s how my ‘database’ works. It may not be a database in the sense of holding all the information within a single computer application, but it is a database in the old sense of file drawers in some sort of order kind of way.

Some writers keep their character charts in notebooks. I save paper and ink and just keep it on the computer. I actually store it in the cloud where I can access it with my computer, tablet or phone. It is accessible. It’s all you really need for your characters. You can organize them however you choose. I use sub-folders with the names of series, titles of stand-alone works, or just by name in the main folder. They are easily moved, through drag and drop. I can find what I need when I need it. That is the purpose of a character database.

It’s easily maintained and that’s what counts. It works for me. Sometimes I create a character who never makes it into the story I created it for. That’s OK. The character can go into the database and may find a role in another work. Throw nothing out – at least not a character. You never know where you may use it. So create a folder on your computer, get a notebook, just make your character charts accessible. You won’t regret it.

About

I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in General Opinion, Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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