Lynnette Jalufka

Character worksheets. They abound in writing books and online. Some are one page; others cover many more. They include details about physical appearance, professions, likes, dislikes, and backstory.

In the past, I’ve rolled my eyes at all that detail. I knew my characters in my head. I only needed to write down how they looked, so they had the same eye color on page 215 as they did on page ten, right?


As I went back to revise my novel, I discovered I needed much more information about my characters. This included speech patterns, motivations, relationships, and their role in the story. There was no way I could keep everything about each character consistent in my head. I needed to fill out those worksheets completely. They can’t have too much information. If I would have included more detail in the first place, I would have saved myself a lot of backtracking. I’ll remedy this when I start my next novel.

Every detail in your character worksheets does not have to appear in your story. Only a fraction should make it into the final work. But because you know your characters, your story will be richer for it, and your readers will come back for more.

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