Sep 30

Character Appearance Thumbnail

One common thing all fiction writers have to do is to give a thumbnail sketch of new characters. The physical appearance of characters consists of the same things — face features, body type, hair and perhaps a memorable trait.


What I’ve been doing for the last couple of years is using an Excel spreadsheet with each of the above items listed. What I’ve recently discovered is a program called SCAPPLE which works with SCRIVENER. But it also is a stand-alone program.


If you’ve ever uses VISUAL THESAURUS, you know the spider type spread of information it displays for a word you have entered. SCAPPLE works the same way — only you get to set up all the words and their connections.

Here are the ones I currently use.

Click on each one and zoom in.

Body Types

Body Types


Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.51.38 PM


Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.51.05 PM

You can see how you could set one of these up for creatures, monsters, angels, any type of fantasy characters. There are probably other uses you can think of for this — and remember nobody sees this but you; so your spelling and non PC entries don’t matter. This is a work sheet for you.

What I’d like to make is a way to enter a character’s name in a blank page which is associated with these pages and then by merely clicking on an item, any item, any collection of items, the end result would be an RTF file I could use to drop into my Character List.

One thing you don’t see here is age. I don’t figure I need that, although I’d certainly have that in mind as I put a character description together.

I plan to put one of these together with Quirks (chewing on glasses, drumming fingers on a table, tapping foot, facial twitch, etc.) and another for Hand Props (smoking pipe, toothpick, pocket watch, coin rolled from one finger to another, cell phone, purse, etc).

Like everything else, if this works for you, great — even if it spurs you to find your own layout such information — it’s something you might be able to use almost on a daily basis if you’re serious about your writing.

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