Developing Characters, Part II: Character Cards

Developing Your Fiction

Continuing from my previous, scheduled post regarding character sketches, I use another, quick technique to develop my characters: Character Cards.

I used to think I wanted to do everything on the computer, somehow, some way, I was going to make it work on a computer and be able to access and view it via multiple monitors. Now, I do have two monitors stacked atop each other—which is half as many as I’d like—but I have since learned I don’t need nor do I want everything to be electronic. That includes my character cards, act and scene breakdown, and the final timeline outline (all of which I’ll share later).

My character cards are simple: Name, Sex, Birthday, Age, Hair, Eyes, and Details. The first, six headings are self-explanatory. The Details heading maybe a bit less so, but there’s always something or some things that are unique to a character, and it’s in this section that I write those in as a reminder to include in flashbacks, reflections, or just description.

I then punch a hole in the top left corner and bind them together with a loose-leaf binder ring. And, honestly, I just hand write these, but I’ve included a graphic of one you could use for your own planning.

These cards hang on a tack from my twenty-four square feet of corkboards that are mounted on the walls and door of my office, so I may easily reference them just in case I forget any of the basic character’s information. Even eye color can slip my mind from time-to-time while writing.

It’s a simple yet effective tool that’s instantly available to me without relying on an internet connection or loading a multi-page document.

You may download the image above or download a PDF I’ve popped together which contains four cards you may print off on a piece of cardstock and cut out.

Author: Chuck Lang

Chuck Lang is a writer of science fiction and horror. Influenced by his years as a carpenter, four years serving in the US Navy, and his fifteen years teaching literature, he holds an MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Lindenwood University. After completing his first manuscript, the supernatural horror novel DEAD GODS, in 2019, he has begun work on its two sequels, DEAD GODS: INHERITANCE and DEAD GODS: RESOLUTION. He is currently developing two additional projects, an urban fantasy horror novel and a military science fiction novel. He lives and writes near the frequently flooded Red River in Fargo, ND with his wife and two redhead sons.

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