Does anyone use character sheets?
I’m running with this mini theme of characters for these past few posts. In addition to just naming our characters, there’s also plenty of other information that’s good to know about them. A physical description, their family and home life, what they would do if they met an alien, things like that.
There are plenty of character sheets — detailed lists that ask about every possible facet of your character — out there flying around the web, many that boast you’ll have a “fully fleshed-out character” by the time you’re done filling the questionnaire out.
I don’t quite agree with that.
Of course, the character sheets can definitely be helpful with keeping certain details of your character straight, but I don’t think a laundry list of miscellaneous favorites (color, food, shirt, etc.) is as important as their psyche. I personally feel that I cannot fully understand my characters until I’ve written them in all sorts of scenarios. I know their basic motivations and relationships to other characters at the beginning of the story, but I can’t know how the character will react to, say, seeing their rival kingdom topple to a dangerous enemy enough to add it to a character sheet.
This could also be the pantser in me, and I know that character sheets can and do work for many writers. I’m not one for outlines, which apparently include character sheets. I jot down basic notes about each character before diving into a story, but I leave the decision as to which path down the story they want to take. Some enjoy the nice, paved road while others will gallivant toward the leaf-strewn path in a dark forest. I’m just along to record their journey.