I’ve bumped into several articles on the use of Character Grids to support your writing. A good example is the post Character Grid on Kim Harrison’s blog. I have read around and as I say there are several posts on this topic – why am I producing yet another? Well I have take the general grid (which Kim used for NaNoWriMo in her example) and tailored it for various reasons and I provide it is a download. This post is much longer than usual as I explain in some detail what grid are for.
Feel free to download, adapt and share but also please do leave me attributed as the creator.
The idea of the grid
The central grid is commonly used; you have rows of characters and columns for scenes. An X indicates that the character is in the scene. Along the top you show where the scene happens, along the bottom a one sentence summary. This helps you quickly map out a story and also see where you use your characters.
I have set out the scenes according to the pulp story method and the letters A – L give the story stages. There are several repeats for conflict and the Shovel of Grief. I had added to the right drop downs to let you set the character archetype according to the monomyth. The data is on the next sheet and I used Vogler’s labels though shortened Threshold Guardian to Guardian.
I have also added some counters (that look for the Xs) and they go red if there is only one character in a scene or a character is only used once. I didn’t go further; clearly the Hero should be unique and in most scenes, the herald and mentor could be unique and the Hero should own the first and possibly final moments.
This spreadsheet could easily be used for bigger stories and more complex patters.
An example – Eli Trew: Martian Mystery
Welcome back to Eli Trew and his Martian Mystery. From the gird you can see that Eli is drinking in a bar when his assistant Private Rock comes to let him know that they need to help Professor Gladwell explore the surface of Mars. They go to meet the Professor in his lab, meet his beautiful daughter, explore Mars, meet robots and Martians and so on. I can use the grid to lay out the action, check that character have little arcs of their own and so forth.
This is shared via Google Docs and is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Feel free to modify, share or even sell but please mention me somewhere in the process.
The file is Pulp Character Grid v0 1. Feedback welcome.