I was over at Absolute Write today and someone in the Writing Novels forum posted a thread topic about using character sheets. This person was told by an “experienced and published author” that in order to make a successful novel she needed to write a character sheet for each character. She then invited comments on the character sheet she came up with.
The sheet itself was a very long form. It listed everything from the character’s name to how they felt about crime.
I really wanted to reply to this post, but I couldn’t find a truly diplomatic way to tell her to stop listening to this so-called “experienced and published author” and start thinking for herself. Maybe character sheets are necessary for this author to be successful, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
I totally agree with the poster who replied with: “If I were to take a character form and just try to create somebody from scratch by filling in stuff, I'd never end up with a character, I'd end up with cardboard.”
Think of your character as someone you just met. Do you need to know all that stuff about them to be their friend? No, you don’t. All you need to know is that you have something in common and the rest will be revealed as you spend time with them and get to know them better.
The only way I could see using a character sheet is if I was looking for a new form of procrastination.