Scrivener – Character Building

So as promised – here’s my post on building characters in Scrivener…

If you’re not entirely new to Scrivener then you will be familiar with the Character section in the “Binder” and maybe even the “Template Sheets” section a little further down. If you haven’t discovered Template Sheets then you really should – they can be a very helpful way to prompt you for things you need to know about any scene, location or character. I find the built in Character Sketch a little limited, but given you can edit pretty much anything in Scrivener this is not an issue – simply create a new one or edit the one provided.

I have re-worked the character sketch template so I have a quick way to jot down the most standard attributes of any character:

  • Name
  • Nickname
  • Hair (color)
  • Eye color
  • Height
  • Build
  • Related to (in story)
  • Occupation
  • Habits / Mannerisms
  • Background

To use your template you can simply right-click on the Characters folder, select ‘Add’, then ‘Add from Template’, fill in your form and then append any details you want to record at the end. Sometimes I’ll change the ‘synopsis’ panel in the inspector to be an image rather than text, and then copy in an image of an actor or movie character that reminds me of my character.

Now here’s where it gets fun! A character sketch is just like any other document in Scrivener – it can act like a folder. So I always create a sub-page attached to my character sketch. I give it the same name as the character but append ‘_journey’ to it.

This journey entry becomes a cameo of my character as the reader experiences it!

Each time I expose a notable trait, or feature it is added to the journey entry (sometimes with a link to the actual scene)

This gives me two valuable character resources to consult as the book is developed:

  • The Character Sketch – provides me with a complete view of my character. Everything is here that I need to know, and in most cases will want the readers to know eventually.
  • The Character Journey – provides me with a running commentary or timeline of the character as it is exposed in the story. This way I can see the character exactly as the reader does. Have I revealed enough at this point in the story or too much?

I find this use of character profiling and journeying very helpful – especially if working on multiple books, or books with a large cast.

I hope that proved useful!

Until next time,



Scrivener – Tip of the week

A lot of folks have asked me how I use Scrivener (for windows) for my writing projects. Over the coming weeks I thought it would be fun to actually post this information in the form of a tip on my blog.

Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, and requests for features you are struggling with or would like to see how to use, along with suggestions and tips of your own. I’m still finding new ways to use the product.

Tip 1 will be out later this week and covers character profiling and character building.

– Justin