Forums Club Ed Editors’ Forum Developing your “ideal” book Reply To: Developing your “ideal” book

Jennifer Lawler

What a great story, Adrienne.

I was just talking about the use of character sketches with an artist friend of mine (the character sketch being a sort of checklist that describes what the character looks like and details of their background). I’ve sometimes encouraged authors to use these and have used them myself as a way to track consistency of how a character is represented throughout a ms (character has blonde hair, went to school at UCLA, etc.) And that’s fair–you don’t want the character to be an orphan in Chapter 1 and in Chapter 5 he’s calling his mother for advice. For the sake of continuity, capturing character information in one place can be helpful.

But in terms of getting to know a character, there are better ways to figure this out than asking “What is your favorite color?” Favorite color has zero bearing on the goal the character is pursuing and why they’re pursuing it. So these types of exercises can make one feel like one is doing the work of character development without actually doing the work of character development.