Character sheets – my template

Right now, I’m doing the last three character sheets I need before I can go into the next phase of novel prep – research. I have a lot of books lined up and I’m looking forward to reading them. In a way, research feels a bit like studying for school, but without the stress of grades and exams. And you get to study only those things that you love.

I’m still working on those character sheets though, and today I thought I’d share with you the template that I normally use. For the most important characters of the first book in the series I did a much more extensive sheet, about ten pages compared to this one, which is about two pages long. I’m glad I did those ten pages for my MC’s, but for the rest of the characters it was a bit much.

Here’s my template:

Basic Character Sheet

Full Name:

Date of birth:

Place of birth:

Where does he/she live?

Is he/she tidy, messy, or average?

Family? (Romantic relationship, children etc):





Whom does he/she look like?

How does he/she dress?

How does he/she speak?


Comfortable with physical contact?



Most significant childhood event:

Close friends:


Sexual orientation:




Five good traits:

Five bad traits:

Optimist or pessimist:

Introvert or extrovert:

Which person in his/her life would the person most want to emulate?

Which person in his/her life would the person least want to emulate?

What is his/her biggest secret?

What makes him/her angry:

What makes him/her embarrassed:

What makes him/her scared:

What makes him/her laugh:

What makes him/her cry:

What pains him/her the most:


Motives (why that goal?):

Conflict (what is keeping them from reaching that goal?):

Greatest flaw:


Do you find character sheets useful?

(Feel free to use this template or be inspired by it, if you like!)

Timeline changes

I had a conversation (er, monologue) with a friend the other day about the book I’m currently working on. Normally I feel that talking about your ideas in detail before you’ve started writing is a bad idea, but I’ve come far enough in the process now to be able to do it. Anyway, as I talked I realized that there were several problems with the timeline. Making any changes at all in a timeline for a trilogy with lots of characters isn’t something you do just like that, but yesterday I sat down and got to work on it. Now I’ve pushed the first events of the second book forward about five months, which works better on a lot of levels. There are a lot of things left to do, but I am feeling optimistic about making it in time for NaNo this year. 

From this to that

Being an author is so much more than just writing. Right now I’d really want to spend more time doing my character sheets for the second Wavesongs novel, but I’m stuck planning the marketing for Entertaining the Sombrevilles, trying to get my printer to work, and registering my company which is something I need to be able to pay taxes. The marketing and the company stuff is one thing, I can do that (sort of)—but the printer, does it really have to make trouble for me right now? Oh, the joys of technology.

The character sheets are working out well, though, when I find the time to work on them. There are lots of new characters for this book and it’s so exciting to get to know them and find out how my MC’s relate to them. Characters and their relationships have always been my favourite part of writing so doing character sheets is a very enjoyable thing for me. The one I did for most characters of the first novel had ten pages for each character, which was very interesting but took a bit too much time. Now I do two pages and I think that’s more manageable.

Do you use character sheets?

How I outline my novels

Right now I’m outlining my next novel – the second part of my pirate m/m romance trilogy. Outlining is essential to me – no pantsing here, thank you. Plotting takes a lot of time, especially when a lot of research is needed, but I’ve done enough mistakes to know that I can’t do without it. Today I thought I’d share the method I use when I’m outlining a story.

First, I don’t know if it can actually be called a method. After I’ve done all this some more times it can, probably, but right now I still spend the first weeks of a new project being lost and confused about what to do. I’m so relieved I’ve passed that phase, this time around.

The very first thing I do is that I write down everything I know about the story so far. Generally I write down all the little ideas that pop up, so I can go back later and use the ones that are good enough. When I know the beginning and ending I write a brief summary of the story, and then a much lengthier summary. What I want is to identify the main storyline, the major characters, and all the parts where I need more characters and more plot.

The next step is to do a lot of thinking and a bit of research to try and fill all those gaping plot holes. For some reason working titles are also very important to me, so I usually end up thinking of one around this point. I also come up with names for as many characters as I can. Calling them ‘X’ or ‘Y’ during the plotting stage just doesn’t work for me, I need names to get a feel of the character.

After this is done I’m ready to go into detail. First I decide upon a certain number of chapters – just to have something to work with. Then I write down the main event that will take place in each chapter, starting with the beginning and the ending and then just working my way through it until there’s something written after every chapter number.

Then comes the final stage of my outlining, where I write down around eight scenes for every chapter. I don’t know why I’ve settled for the number eight but it works, so I keep doing it. After doing this I go back, arrange the scenes chronologically and decide during which timeframe each chapter takes place. This gives me a detailed plan that’s easy to follow, but I can still add scenes during writing if I need to.

When all this is done I work on my characters, using character sheets mostly but also finding images so I know what they look like. And then there’s all the research, but let’s leave that for another blog post.

Do you outline, or do you prefer to make things up as you go along?