1. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Character spreadsheet?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Alesia, Oct 27, 2013.

    Was there a program available where you could build a spreadsheet of attributes for your characters like appearance, bio, development line, etc...? I could swear I saw something like that on this forum once before, but I forgot where.
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    That'd be interesting thing to look at.
    Was it in Excel? Sounds like an Excel thing... ZOMG, Deja Vu!
     
  3. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I'm not entirely sure. I think it was in the side bar under articles or workshops when I saw it.
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    DeathandGrim likes this.
  5. stormr
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    stormr Member

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    Thank you for posting that link. I like that spreadsheet. It will be fun coming up with the input for my characters.
     
  6. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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  7. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    It is indeed. THANK YOU!
     
  8. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    You're very welcome ^.^
    Glad I could help.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I begin with the admission that I do not and never have "developed" my characters outside of the story, because the exigencies of the story itself exert changes on the character. That said, I can't think of anything less useful to character development than a spreadsheet that reads like a cross between a job application and a psycho-social evaluation. If your story requires your character to divulge his/her morning routines, they will do so and you will think of them.

    I "develop" my characters by placing them in difficult and defining situations, and then I see how they come out. Yes, I know beforehand how they will be likely to go, but it never has anything to do with their eye color or morning routine.

    That's me. YMMV.

    BTW, do you really think Hemingway completed a checklist like this for Harry Morgan? Or Harper Lee for Atticus Finch? Joseph Heller for Yossarian? Herman Wouk for Willie Keith? James Michener for Pasquinel?
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
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  10. A.M.P.
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    I don't know any of those authors or characters, lol.

    If I'd ever use one, I'd use to start developing a character just to see what I come up with in an organized manner.
    Although, I just typically do it in my head.

    For the most part, I don't see why or how many of the things in the sheet would come up in the book and other things are just too simple to forget.
    The only time I write out a character plan is when there is some sort of hierarchy or plot/interest crossovers and I want to visualize the whole tangled web.
     
  11. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    I need a spreadsheet to organize everything for this particular character without a doubt. She is part of a several novel series and though I know everything about her down to what brand of toothpaste she uses, it's always prudent to write it out just in case I need to take a long break from writing or some other event happens that causes me to forget certain attributes about her.
     
  12. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    In that case, my most sincere condolences.
     
  13. Duchess-Yukine-Suoh
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    Duchess-Yukine-Suoh Girl #21 Contributor

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    I only know who Harper Lee and Atticus Finch are from the above.:(
     
  14. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In defense of character sheets: the most important parts of characterization to me are Consistency, Malleability, and Relevance. I'm going to start with Consistency "vs." Malleability before getting into Relevance.

    ***

    Consistency with no Malleability: the characters are flat, possible bordering on cliche and/or stereotypical, and they are viewed as mere plot devices for the "author" to make ham-handed statements instead of writing realistic characters that can grow as people.

    Malleability with no Consistency: the characters are written too haphazardly, and re-written to many times, for anything meaningful to be noticed, and they are viewed as mere plot devices for the author to solve or complicate problems (sometimes a character is completely capable and willing to do something, sometimes they are suddenly declared to be completely lost on exactly the same sort of thing later in the story, and it is determined entirely by the author's whims instead of by the characters' histories) instead of writing realistic characters that can be distinguished from each other in some way.

    No Consistency or Malleability: a sort of Eldritch Abomination of bad writing that I cannot even think of an example to describe without snorting LSD. If anybody would like to help me here, feel free to try.

    Consistency and Malleability: the characters have the ability to grow AND have baselines in order to grow from, a number of "average" settings for which deviations from the average can be specifically pointed out and explored instead of being writing it off as, "Oh, the author just wanted the character to be like this instead," for every new scene.

    I've read claims that Character Sheets sacrifice Malleability by "forcing" authors to write out exactly what a characters is going to be like in any and every situation, and that these authors should "just write the story instead" so that the characters can be exposed to new experiences that they must grow in response to. I would respond by clarifying these sheets provide more Consistency, rather than less Malleability.

    Not every author is capable of writing by the seat of their pants, of hoping that the disparate ideas that come from their stream of consciousness will accidentally turn into something cohesive by the end, and some writers need to keep notes of what they want to say over the course of a fairly long story so that there will ultimately be something to say. JRR Tolkien held off on writing the Lord of the Rings Saga for years because he was busy creating Encyclopaedic volumes of notes about what he would eventually write, and when he did get around to writing the story instead of writing about it, he created something that will Never be forgotten.

    Tools to help an author maintain Consistency do not detract from Malleability - or vice versa, if there are any - unless the author lets them, and if an author is going to do that, then simply taking the tool away without telling them why is not going to help them the next time they find a different tool to use in the same way.

    ***

    With that in mind, most specific character sheets I've found are incredibly far from Relevant. "Favorite color," "High School Football Team," "Favorite Season," and other trivia are nowhere near as important as knowing how a character's Strengths, Flaws, Treatment of other people, and Problem solving abilities/processes will effect what actually happens.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Harry Morgan - from To Have and Have Not, Ernest Hemingway
    Yossarian - from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    Willie Keith - from both The Caine Mutiny (novel) and The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (play) by Herman Wouk
    Pasquinel - from Centennial by James A. Michener
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with this 100%.

    If you need a reference, you have your manuscript.

    As for consistency, I'll quote Emerson:
    Real people aren't perfectly consistent. Why, then, should a character be so?
     
  17. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    They shouldn't be perfectly consistent, if by which you mean "static," and it's a good thing that nobody is saying that they should be. However, they should be consistent enough that you can tell the difference between them, rather than:

    Chapter 1: Character A has to do something because Character B cannot
    Chapter 2: B, suddenly able to do the thing, has to do it because A suddenly cannot do it anymore

    If you disagree with the distinction between "consistent" and "static" that I made earlier, would you like to address it specifically so that we are both talking to each other instead of around each other?
     
  18. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Anastasia Steele from 50 shades?
     
  19. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dare I ask?
     
  20. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    The term "block of wood" comes to mind...

    Everything she does, even in the so called "erotic" scenes is almost robotic. Far s I'm concerned, Gray could have been porkin' a vinyl blow up doll and you couldn't tell the difference. And he as a character wasn't much better.

    As an aside... (From the main site where this sheet is located.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  21. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    Alesia, you could be looking for this, but I'm not sure.

    I used that site to make an even more encompassing character profile sheet.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013

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