This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Character Sketch

Since I'm plotting a new novel, I thought I would share my Character Sketch process. Each writer has to find something that works for them. Over the years I've picked up a few things from books I've read and workshops I've attended and adapted them to my style. I hope some of what I've posted here is helpful.

The first thing I do is take time getting to know my characters. I begin with the hero and heroine and then move toward the secondary characters. For naming my characters I like to scan through the "Character Naming Sourcebook" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. To determine my characters' personalities, I used "The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines" by Tami Cowden, Carol LaFever and Sue Viders. These two books are invaluable resources whether you write historical, contemporary, romance, women's fiction, mainstream, suspense, or science fiction.

The form below is my Character Sketch form that I use for my two main characters. I use the same format for secondary characters, but I will fill in less information and only the details that I feel are important to that character's role.

Character Sketch Form
Title of Manuscript _______________________
Name of Character _______________________


Physical Traits
Hair Color:
Eye Color:
Unique Marks:

Behavior Traits
Age and/or DOB:

Relationship to HeroineLikes:

As I add in the characteristics, I may add a few extra categories or include glasses or contacts beside Eye Color. The Archetype comes from the book hero & heroine book listed above. I may not use all this information, but I have it if I need it. Also, I sometimes change my character as the book evolves. For instance, someone who is weak or innocent at the beginning of the book may evolve into a stronger and wiser person after a few learned lessons and experiences. If I know this will happen from the beginning. I may include that in my notes on this form.
Filling out a Character Sketch will also help you with plotting your story. Some stories are plot driven and others are character driven, but either way, you have to know your characters to determine why they make the decisions they make. This form has worked for me and I hope it will help you if you don't already use something similar.
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This is very helpful info. I'm starting a new book this month and bought the hero/heroine book you mentioned. Then I promptly forgot I had it. So thank you, I'm going to dig it out and use it. In fact, I think you might have been with me when I bought it back at RWA, lol.

Also, thank you for being so supportive with my mom situation.

Thanks, Angie! I'm glad you thought the info was helpful.

I hope things are fine with your mom. If you need anything, don't hesitate to call.