Writes And Wrongs: Shiloh Walker On Keeping Your Series' Characters Straight

Best-selling author Shiloh Walker pens this bi-weekly column of online advice for writers. Walker is a full-time author who is published in both e-book and traditional print formats. Now she shares her experience and advice to help aspiring and published authors figure out the "Writes and Wrongs" of the digital world.

Too many series, too many characters… aaaahhhh!!!

A break away from promo talk. Promo, in my opinion, is boring.

Let’s talk about something that bores me even more…organization. As in keeping characters organized. I’m not an organized writer. I hate the word synopsis. Organized plotting makes me break out in hives. The terms series arc blows my mind.

I’m also lazy. Yet I hate getting things wrong.

At some point, though, I figured out I needed to get organized because my memory isn’t exactly what it used to be and when you write several ongoing series and you bring back recurring characters, it’s a good idea have some of reference handy. 

Otherwise, eye color miraculously changes—over and over again. People shrink then grow, then shrink, then grow. Hair color changes. The spellings of names, critical life events, all of this changes and when you’re in the heat of the story, are we really thinking about what happened in the book three books earlier?

Well, I’m not. At least, I don’t want to.

Something that’s useful for keeping basic info handy?

Character worksheets.

I mentioned these on twitter a few weeks ago and was hit with a slew of questions—what are those, where did you get them?

One of the ones I use, I got from a friend. I also use a more in-depth resource sometimes—Lynn Viehl’s The Novel Notebook. You can find it via the freebies links at her blog or just with a google. This goes very indepth, everything from cover art ideas, title ideas, character backgrounds, etc. It’s very organized—often, I’ll just take what I need from it and not worry about the rest. But for the organized writer (you know, those who aren’t like me?), it’s probably perfect just as it is.

But if you just want a quickie little list, you can create your own character worksheet, throw it in a binder and reference back to it when you needed it, maybe even create a list of memorable events that happen in each book—viola, series bible.

Not sure what to put in the character worksheet?

Here you go…this could be a starting point:






Eye color:

Hair color/style/length:


Special skills/abilities:




Notes regarding character/story:

Feel free to copy and paste it, use it as you will. It’s a start. 

- Shiloh Walker

Check back for the next installment of Shiloh Walker's column in two weeks. Seeking more specific advice? You can ask the author any questions about the "writes and wrongs" of online behavior here. Your question might even get featured in an upcoming article. And of course, you can also follow the Shiloh Walker online daily at her website, on her Facebook page and via Twitter.