Today I lined up the characters in my new project for a critical look. I did this by skimming through the narrative and copying and pasting lines of physical description onto a single page. I didn’t include actions and mannerisms–for some reason, they’re easier to remember. This exercise was like getting everybody on stage to see how they look together.
It was good to do, because in my fourth month on this first draft, I’m still figuring out the story. I already had short bios and (OneNote) pages for each character with ideas for their involvements, but I’d found myself repeating descriptions on the one hand and being inconsistent on the other.
The lineup made me notice some things. A crowded stage. A few characters who are more interesting than others, and others who are little more than a name. Descriptions that could be better written.
When I pasted passages onto the new character page, I included the chapter number where the characters are introduced. For handy reference, I put the new character page in the same OneNote section where I’m writing the chapters.
This should make success a cinch, right? 🙂