Sunday, December 7, 2014

Character Building Guide - Part 2: Getting Started

 Getting Started

Welcome to the second installment of the character building guide. In this part we will focus on setting up your initial character sheet. It sounds simple enough doesn't it? I prefer use to pencil and paper role playing game character sheets as a starting point. You can also use any sort of blank paper that is available. This post will not have an 'Example' or 'Use' portion because this step doesn't involve adding any character information.


  • Step 1 - Gather your materials. If you are doing all this digitally then you will only need the programs you intend to use. Otherwise you will need loose paper or a notebook, pens, pencils, etc.
  • Step 2 - Determine your needs. Depending on what type of character or story you are writing, you might not need to know their detailed history or what their exact physical attributes are. For a romance novel you may want to spend more time on getting to know your character on a personal level. For an epic fantasy novel you may want to have a detailed list of spells for your mage character.
  • Step 3 - (optional) Find a Role Playing Game (RPG) system that fits. This is optional because you might not need what a RPG system can help provide depending on the type of story you are writing. Most RPG systems focus more on what a character can do physically. There are some that put an emphasis on character interaction that can also be useful. I personally like GURPS because it is a generic system that is easy to customize to your needs. Another advantage is that they have blank character sheets that have already been formatted. Those character sheets usually lack a few things that I like to include, but you can always customize them to your needs. There are tons of resources available online, and you can get a blank copy of almost any RPG system's character sheet here:
  • Step 4 - Outline your character sheet. This is where you block off space for everything you want on your character sheet. If you're using a blank RPG system sheet then some of this has been done for you already. Any customization will most likely need to be on another sheet of paper. The most important suggestion I can give is to leave extra room for additional information. You may need to add things to the character sheet as the character develops. Things can always change while you are writing. Some things, like attribute ratings, may only need a single line, or a small section of a few lines. Other portions of the character sheet, like the character's history, may take several pages.

Now we're ready to start filling in specific character information!

No comments: