WHY DO I USE CHARACTER SHEETS? They are a huge help to me, especially in writing my fantasy novels, because it allows me to not stress about remembering all my details. If I forget something about a person I can go back and look at my recorded information without sifting through tons of previous chapters looking for a specific scene or moment. Believe me, that gets old fast, and often kills my writing drive too. It's so much better to have a handy-dandy reference guide right at your fingertips, especially in that it helps to keep everything straight when the going gets complicated.
HOW DO I MAKE MY CHARACTER SHEETS? I use a typical Microsoft Word document for my character sheets and often have a layout for them that would be somewhat reminiscent of a Wikipedia page. Below you can see a preview of a character from my fantasy series, Hadia Arsheesha.
WHAT DO I PUT IN MY CHARACTER SHEETS? Firstly, I like to find a perfect faceclaim for my characters, usually by finding an actor/actress who suits the look I've imagined. In the case of Hadia above, I am using actress Golshifteh Farahani as my inspiration. I prefer using actors rather than just internet images because if you can find a specific person who looks like your character and has photos taken of them regularly then you can get a wide-range of expressions, situations, emotions and looks from the same face, and that's great.
Secondly, the details I put in (using the example of sheets specific to this fantasy story) range from name, title, quotes, quick stats/facts, their history, a physical and characteristic description, their genealogy, etc. Basically, go all out. Don't hold back anything. Sit down and start writing about your character in these or whatever other areas you come up with, and go into deep detail. You'd be surprised what things you might even learn about your character when you sit down to write solely about them.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF CREATING CHARACTER SHEETS? For starters, you learn a lot about your character as you create them, and what you learn is recorded and saved for future reference. You have tons of material to work with and go back to, and that's awesome. Another great thing that stems from that is you get to know your character so well and deeply that you are able to show them to readers rather than tell about them. A big pitfall of writing your first draft is having holes in your plot or characters and filling them in as you go. Of course this is fine for a first draft, but can be detrimental to the writing process and cause writer's block. Plus, it is often those times when you do your worst writing, when you aren't sure of your characters or your story and you're making it up as you go along. That's when it becomes telling instead of showing. Creating a character sheet to learn about them and get them stuck in your brain can help to prevent that.
There you have it! How I personally go about creating my character sheets. If you are interested in seeing a sheet in full, let me know! You can email me and I can send you an example as reference for anyone who is interested in starting something like this.
What are your methods for keeping track of characters and creating them? What kinds of things work for you? Let me know in the comments!