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Plotting Crash Course, Day 2: Character Sheets and Aesthetics

by Kellyn Roth |
October 17, 2016


Today we’ll be talking about character sheets and novel aesthetics, because I started developing a playlist today, got excited about it, and need to share it with you.
Let’s start out with character sheets.
Now, everyone has their own version of the character sheets, and you can find about a thousand, all relatively good, by just Googling ‘character sheets.’ I developed my own this year … pointlessly (more on that later).
Anyway, here’s my character sheet:


Full name:



Reason (for being in the story, like protagonist, supporting character, etc.):

Age in Story:



Overall (from unprejudiced viewpoint):



Hair color, length, style:

Eye color and expression:

Details about face:

Skin color:

Other Appearance Details:

Perceives him/herself as:

Others perceive him/her as:

Style of dress/fashion preferences:


Athletic? Inactive?:

Overall health?:

Past illnesses/injuries:



Relationship with:


Relationship with:


Relationship with (each brother):


Relationship with (each sister):


Relationship with (each grandparent):


Relationships with:

Stepfamily of any kind:

Relationships with:

Other family (such as birth-parents, etc.):

Relationships with:




Childhood Religion:

Other beliefs/perspectives from raising:

Important memories from childhood:

Educational background:

Where did the character live in each year of his/her life:

How did any moves during his/her childhood effect him/her?:

Where does the character live at the beginning of the story?:

Where does the character settle in the end of the story?:

Other things that effected the character during childhood:

Adult Life:

What did he/she do when he/she grew up?:

Important decisions made as an adult:

Changes in beliefs/religion/perspectives as an adult:

How did his/her personality change as he/she matured?:

Love interests:

His/Her Own Family:


Past Husbands/Wives (if applicable):


Stepchildren (if applicable):

Nature and Personality:

Top three words:


Strongest and weakest trait:

Who/what is most important to him/her?:

Who/what is least important to him/her?:

What does the character fear?:

How does the character deal with his/her fear?:

What gives the character courage?:

What is the character proud of?:

Outlook on life:



How does the character see himself/herself?:

How is the character seen by others?:


Friends? Why? Relationships with?:

Coworkers? Relationships with?:

Other people that have an effect on his/her life?:

Enemies? Why? Relationships with?


How does the character change in the course of the story (if at all) โ€ฆ





It’s probably not as good as a professional character sheet … but, on the other hand, maybe it’s pretty close, because it’s developed from the bones of several different ‘professional’ character sheets … ๐Ÿ˜‰
Then this happened:


Then I realized, as foreshadowed (I’ve got to think about when Iย should foreshadow in … AHF? Fingertips? What shouldย  call it?) in the before graphic …


I don’t need character sheets. I know a ton about my characters. It’s a little creepy. So, time to move on to the less technical development that actually creates a 3-dimensional, complex character with as many layers as a triple-decker sandwich with extra something that makes it really thick and … layerful. No more metaphors for me …
Anyway, I just finished K.M. Wieland’s Crafting Unforgettable Characters, which was full of amazing tips for developing characters. It also gave me the idea to write short scenes putting my characters in different circumstances, testing their reactions, etc.
One of the prompts was to write about a character’s normal … that is, the world they lived in before the world was upheavaled by the inciting incident. The idea would be to write about something that the character does on a daily basis. And it doesn’t have to be boring, either. I wrote a scene in which Alice is riding her horse in the early dawn … and talking to her … because Alice talks to her horse a lot … and no, that’s not weird.


It was a lot of fun to do.
Another reason for me to write these short scenes is to get a feel for the writing style, the setting, etc.


So that’s about all I’m going to be doing for character development for the rest of the month. I’ll just scribble down random scenes based before the book begins (and maybe after the book ends if I want to test out what the character will be like once his/her arc is completed).


It’s working out well so far. ๐Ÿ™‚
Now, I get to move on to the aesthetic side of writing.
What does that mean? Well, aesthetic technically means “concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.” And music is beautiful. And Pinterest boards are beautiful. So. Point made. ๐Ÿ˜›
Let’s start with my Pinterest board. Here’s a link. Now, I’m still working on it … when I remember to. But some of the beauty for At Her Fingertips is already contained there.
Now, to music, which is what we were all waiting for, right? Well, right?! ๐Ÿ˜€


That’s a lot of songs, and that may not even be my final list!
Do they all have to do with At Her Fingertips? Er … they do in my mind, but it would take forever to explain why. And it wouldn’t make sense anyway if I did. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Comment if there’s a certain song you’d like to know about. I’d love to try to explain, at least.
Now, here’s something else I’ve done over the last couple days. I took a sheet of plain white copy paper and made this:


Basically, I covered the paper with words. I don’t know why, but cover a paper really appeals to me. In the bottom left corner, I wrote things like theme, ideas (for a book is based on ideas – or ideals – such as ‘love isn’t selfish,’ ‘bad guys don’t win,’ etc.), and influences (such as Maud Hart Lovelace. I want to write romance like Maud Hart Lovelace, after all!).
Around the edge of the paper, I wrote down the plot points (such as climax, resolution, inciting incident, pinch points), at what percentage of the story they should be roughly located, and then I tried to fit the generalย idea for At Her Fingertips I had onto this outline. I wrote a lot of details about each point (because I might forget what the second pinch point is supposed to be about).
That done, I wrote ‘1,700 a day,’ which is my goal, notes about the protagonist, antagonist, protagonist’s lie, and the main conflict, and other stuff like that.
Once finished, I had a nice little note sheet that I can refer to as I sharpen up my plot, search for my theme, etc.
Well, that’s all for today, folks. Time to publish this post before it gets any later! ๐Ÿ™‚
~Kellyn Roth
p.s. still haven’t decided on a name for Kirk’s horse. Any thoughts? You can find him on my Pinterest board … he’s titled ‘Kirk’s horse’ at the moment. ๐Ÿ˜‰

What do you think of my thoughts?

22 Responses

  1. I’m actually so thrilled to see someone else who plots for their novel before NaNo. *high five* Yay!!!!
    I’ve never before used character sheets, but these look super helpful, so I may need to try them. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, and I was wondering . . . what is ‘At her Fingertips’ about? I couldn’t find it on your WIP page, but taking a look at the pinterest board has really caught my interest! It looks really good!

    1. *highfives back* I didn’t used to plan at all for NaNo, and that wasn’t working for me, as evidenced by the rambly, plotless first drafts. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I put the At Her Fingertips page under My Novels >> The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy a while back (I don’t know why!) and now I don’t want to move it and change the link. :/ Anyway, the summary is: Alice Knight has always had definite plans for her life. Now that sheโ€™s eighteen and about to come out into society, her plans seem to be coming into fruition: sheโ€™s on her way to becoming a debutante and then, she hopes, a bride. But one thing after another happens during the autumn before her first Season to prevent her from succeeding. Can Alice make her world โ€“ and emotions โ€“ cooperate?

  2. AH! Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Imagine Dragons, One Republic!!! YES! YES! YES!!!!! I HATE filling out 50… (or was it 500?) page long forms for my characters, so this will really help!!! THANK YOU KELL!!!!!

    1. YES I’M NOT THE ONLY PERSON WHO LISTENS TO CARRIE UNDERWOOD!!! (although I know other people who do … they just seem far between to me!)
      I know … I hate filling out those forms! They can be useful if you don’t know the character well, but otherwise …

  3. Awesome artist choices – I love your playlist, and your character forms are really cool (I’ll have to try using those!) I also do aesthetics/paper-covering for a lot of my novels, as well as for my poetry and songs – it really does help to keep creativity flowing ๐Ÿ™‚
    Great post!

  4. I love your character sheets! Super!
    I’ve taken to secretly scribbling in my Nano planner in class for the last week…it’s worked well and I’ve got some awesome characters down ๐Ÿ™‚ Evil me.

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