Friday, May 25, 2018

Writing: Character List

As many of you know, I often re-read novels by some of my favorite authors. Many of these feature the same characters, forming a series. I haven't done this yet,  although I'll do it in my novella I plan to publish toward the end of the year. Stay tuned for details. But in the meantime, have you ever paused to consider how a favorite author recalls the hair color a character has, the car he/she drives, the city in which they live?

The answer, of course, is that all authors--at least, all whom I know--maintain some sort of character sketch on each person featured in each of their books. These are helpful in maintaining continuity and accuracy, and are also beneficial to the person designing a book cover. I've heard stories about cover pictures of blonde heroines that don't match up with the brunettes about whom the author wrote.

Here's one such character sketch from my files. It's of the main character in my recently published novella, Doctor's Dilemma, which takes place in Sommers, Texas:

Tyler Gentry, MD: Surgeon, finished residency and accepts position with Hall group. Dark brown hair, brown eyes. Olive complexion. About 6’ tall, 200#. Drives old Ford (which blows up). Went with Hall group because he was in need of money after residency. New car is a black Chevrolet Malibu. Lives in an apartment (furnished with what he had as a resident).


Father was a surgeon in Houston. Parents killed in private plane crash. Alcohol involved—he now avoids it.

Simple, but it has all the details I need. Have you given any thought to how series authors kept things straight? Have you ever thought about the character list for your favorite book? What would you include? 

Tweet with single click. "How do authors keep up with characters' hair color and type of car driven?"

NOTE: The Kindle version of my novella, Doctor's Dilemma, is available for a reduced price through the end of this month. (And, even if you don't have a Kindle, there are free apps available from Amazon that allow you to read Kindle books on your PC, Mac, or smart phone). 

2 comments:

Patricia Bradley said...

I write in Scrivener so I keep up with those details in the character chart provided. And I still make mistakes. lol.

Speaking of covers, my publisher sent me the cover of one of my books and the heroine had red hair instead of the blonde I'd written for her, explaining that the photos of the blonde looked blah...so... in the first act I went in and had my heroine change the color of her hair when she got upset. :-)

Priscilla said...

I like the way you included the fact that Tyler Gentry avoids alcohol and why. Those are the kind of unique things I'd put in a character sketch. Stuff like she was born with only four toes on her left foot, so she never wears sandals or goes swimming, even in the heat of summer. Or he's tone deaf, so he never sings (but he loves to dance).