Character boards can be a worthy time investment for an author planning a novel – especially the first one.
Writer’s Digest says: “One effective way to create lively characters on the page is to create a character board first, enabling you to envision who your character really is.”
Many writers use character boards when planning out the “people” in a novel. I did not include this resource when preparing to write my first novel. Frankly, in the beginning, I had no plan. I was winging it, all the way. If, over the years, you’ve read posts I’ve written about this subject, then you know how many mistakes I’ve made on this, my self-publishing journey.
It wasn’t long into writing my first novel that I realized this story would work better as a series. With this mind, I finally began to document character details, plot ideas for multi-book story arcs, etc, in an Excel spreadsheet. While helpful in a way, Excel wasn’t the most user friendly resource. For example, I couldn’t see all the snippets of information at one time. In one view, I needed to see the big picture, and the details that created it.
But habit is habit, so I stayed with what I knew.
Fortunately, all that “hard way” learning I had to do to complete my first manuscript resulted in a cleaner, clearer work flow for all subsequent work. This includes blogging, guest posting, and even social media shares. My characters are better. My stories are better. What’s more, I am enjoying this process of creation with less angst and more imagination. Isn’t that the foundation of loving what you do?
When the words for the second novel began to take shape in my mind — and that was well before the first sentence landed on a blank page — I knew I wanted to incorporate a character planning resource that would let me flesh out the particulars of a “person,” in an organized and cohesive fashion. And it needed to be something more writer-friendly than my Excel spreadsheets.
To accomplish this, I needed poster-size paper, some sharpies, a few magazines (for images relating to people, places, and key words), and the enthusiasm of a small child in art class. For months, I tinkered with my character board, trying to decide what was relevant and what was just taking up space. (An experience similar to packing light for a long trip.)
Most authors (and their loved ones) will tell you that the characters who inhabit their minds, and books, are real. Fine, they don’t exist in the flesh. We get it. But they are most definitely alive. With this in mind, I decided to have some fun with an electronic “character board” by creating online profiles, here on Bliss & Sage, for the characters in my stories.
Once I started the creative process, it became clear that Bliss & Sage’s outside-the-box approach to connecting readers with book characters presented an interesting opportunity for fellow self-published and indie author authors to be a part of the fun.
Suddenly, this post has transformed into an invitation!
Here, on Bliss & Sage, writers of Romance have a option to connect with readers through creating profiles for their book characters, and sharing details about a favorite song, or where the work, or a places to visit in their hometown. Authors are invited to share their life inspirations, stories from a favorite trip, or wisdom that has guided their lives, love, and/or careers. Or even a guest post based on a loved chapter that had to be edited out of the final manuscript.
Readers get to know more about a character’s life. Where they work, and where they play. New details about their personalities, quirks, and hearts. They can use the comment section to ask questions and connect with both the characters and their authors.
Where will all this fun lead? I have no idea. But I’m reasonably certain my characters do.
Bliss & Sage – At the heart of your character.™