Now that I’ve covered the “How To’s” for several of the OneNote basics that I use frequently as an author (Getting Started, Links & Files, Tables, Drawing Tools), let’s get into real specifics for authors.
Today I’m going to go into how you can use OneNote for your character discovery and tracking. I’ll go over making templates for character creation and tracking characters in a series.
This is a single OneNote tab to go into a larger Notebook. I have 3 pages inside this tab. Simple – Main Character, Extensive – Main Character, and Villain Discovery.
I’ve seen a TON of character discovery questions and lists out there. Everyone has what works for them. Personally, I never fill out everything, but I do try to look at the lists and pull out what I think is important for me to know about that character. I’ve created two character discovery templates you could use.
Simple – Main Character: These are the basics you’ll want to keep track of for your characters. Things like what they look like, major personality traits, etc.
Extensive – Main Character: This is a much more detailed list of questions about your character. The are even more questions you could ask/add, but this’ll get your brain moving.
Personally, I have a tough time writing villains. I’ll pretend it’s because they’re so far from me personally that I just can’t picture them. So in addition to the simple or extensive character discovery, I do additional villain work.
Villain Discovery: I’ve included a link to a helpful blog post as well as some additional questions that I found particularly relevant.
Series Character Tracking:
This is a single OneNote tab to go into a larger Notebook. I have 4 pages inside this tab. Main Characters, Other Characters – Group 1, Other Characters – Group 2, and Really Minor Characters.
Personally, since I lean toward writing series, I do a lot of my character discovery and tracking all in this template. You’ll notice that the first three pages are all alike. That’s because I’ll track the same information, but I group the characters to make it more manageable. I’ll do a page for my main characters, and then a page for the villains, or for another family, or for townspeople, etc.
Main Characters: This is fairly simple information, therefore not as time-consuming to fill out. I’ll often fill in as I write (since I’m a bit of a pantser). I usually put the characters in order of importance, or in the order their books come out. I put my couples together.
Other Characters – Group 1 & 2: Figure out how many groups of characters you have and copy this page until you have that many groups (villains, friends, townspeople, minor characters, etc.). Just rename the top of each page from “Other Characters – Group #” to whatever the group of characters is that you’re tracking there.
Really Minor Characters: I don’t both tracking all that info for the really minor folks. Just the few simple details I know. So I’ve added a template with a basic bulleted list for that purpose.