For a while I’ve been thinking about the best way to put together character sketches for characters in all of the Wilderness novels and GH. Not a small undertaking, I know, but I think of it as a long-term project.
There are many websites/wikis devoted to book series and movies that do a good job of this. Examples include Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) has a character sketch which is exhaustive and very carefully put together and Debra Morgan (Dexter) is another example of a very intense and detailed character breakdown. Wikipedia has character pages for fictional characters across time and space (here’s the Wikipedia very elegant approach to Katniss Everdeen). Game playing sites go to great lengths and make very complicated character infoboxes. Wikia provides an example character template which would not work for fictional characters, but could be adapted. It’s interesting to see what they throw in, at any rate:
| name =
| image =
| alternate name =
| aka =
| d.o.b. =
| age =
| birthplace =
| residence =
| race =
| height =
| weight =
| shoe size =
| hair =
| eyes =
| body shape =
| tattoos =
| jewellery =
| dress =
| appearance-other form =
| dress =
| emblem =
| markings =
| accent =
| language =
| weapons =
| transport =
| motto(s) =
| favourite music =
| likes =
| dislikes =
| pastimes =
| family =
| powers =
| fighting style =
| food =
| businesses =
| lovers =
At Pemberly.com (a kind of Jane Austen super wiki) there’s a simple but effective approach, as you see here to the left. Click for a larger image.
Every once in a while I spend a half hour experimenting in the best way to do this for my characters. Full disclosure: this is something I should have been doing since the beginning.
The easiest way would be to do it just like the Pemberly folk have done for Jane Austen’s characters. So for example anybody who wants to contribute would go to the page for a given novel and leave a comment (if this were a proper wiki, you could edit the page yourself, but in this case, a comment would be enough):
Endless Forest (W6). Mr. Turner. Shopkeeper in Johnstown who sells Ethan and Callie supplies.
That would certainly be a great start if I could compile a complete list of all characters showing up in the novels. But historical novelists are OCD by nature and so I also imagine a more detailed accounting, something like the following, for characters who are more substantial. Rough example:
|Full Name||Ethan Middleton||Image/Appearance||Blond, middle height, elegant build|
|Role||__Primary __Secondary __Transient|
|Date of Birth||1792|
|Place of Birth||[[Paradise]], Hamilton County, NY||Appearing in||W1, W3, W4, W6|
|Date of Death|
|Place of Death||Hudson River (steam boat accident)|
|Occupation||Owner of most of the town of Paradise, town manager and planner||Quote||"I'm a cousin, but I go home eventually to an empty house and I don't like it. You're alone in the world too, and we have always got on just fine. I thought we could help each other." W6|
|Biography||Son of [[Julian Middleton]] and [[Kitty Witherspoon Middleton Todd]], nephew of [[Elizabeth Middleton Bonner]] born after his father's death. Raised by his mother and step-father [[Richard Todd]]. As a young man spends two years. .||Marriage or other romantic relationships||--Harrison Quinlan, short term|
--[[Calista WIlde Middleton]] married 1824
|Sources||W1, W3, W4, W6, GH||Children||Guardian to the children of [[Jennet Scott Bonner][ and [[Luke Scott Bonner]] after their mother's death|
Before this could get started there’s a big decision to be made: should all of the character sketches be folded into The Gilded Hour kinda-wiki or should I start a separate wiki for the Wilderness novels. The thing is, I don’t expect this to take off right away or at all, even, so that’s something that could be discussed. So the question is, if you are one of those people who re-reads the entire series on a regular basis (and bless you if you are), would you be interested in participating in the very brief way described first above? You’re plowing through Lake in the Clouds for the xxth time, and you come across Captain Mudge and you wonder, hey, has he been entered into the character list yet? So you’d go to the page for Lake in the Clouds and leave a comment:
LitC W3. Captain Mudge. Captain of the ship that takes the escaping slaves to Canada.
Now, somebody might come along and say, wait, he has a first name. Or, he’s too big a character for a one line entry, he needs a full template because ….
So then that would be a debate. This kind of discussion is common on real full-size wikis, because the community puts the entries together and debates about the best way to do it. I don’t imagine that anybody has a lot of time or energy to devote to something like this, but maybe contributing once in a while when you come across something — that would be the idea.
If you know of a website that uses character templates that you like, please leave a link in the comments. I’d be interested in seeing what appeals.
Now I have to go back to writing a very difficult scene.