I'm looking for a software that helps me develop and organize the characters for my novel.
What I want:
- something like a filesystem, with a file for each character
- it should have or allow me to create categories like name, gender, age, backstory, and so on
- once created, these categories should automatically be available for each character
- adding images, text files, movies and stuff, or linking to these
- it would be nice if it somehow interacted with my writing and timeline software (Scrivener and Aeon Timeline)
- creating relations between characters (married to, boss of, lives next door to, etc.)
- these relations should not be limited in number
What I don't need:
- character development from archetypes (as in Persona) or a list of mental disorders (as in Character Writer)
What I know of:
- Persona: looks nice, but has these stupid character development tools that I don't need
- Character Writer: looks awful
It does not have to be specialized software, but something with the above functionality. If you know of some software that does all that but has some other originally intended purpose, that's fine, too.
After some experimentation I have found that a spreadsheet works best for me. I use Excel, because I have it, but will try other speadsheet software before my next project.
In the spreadsheet, each column is a character and each row is some aspect of that character, such as traits (name, height, personality) and structural elements (development). For every story I write, I can create how many and whichever rows I need. For example, in some stories the outward appearance will be more important, so I will have rows for eye color, clothing style, and which part of their body hair they don't shave; in other stories the past of the characters is more important so the backstory row will be split into many other rows such as kindergarten, relationship to siblings, or summer camp in 1963. Colums can be added and moved around, too, which is nice if you want to see different characters side by side and work to make them more different or explore their relationship.
I even partly develop character arcs in the spreadsheet. This question contains a (made-up) example of what this might look like: Outliner (software) with annotations for OS X or browser based (but offline!) For more detailed work on the character arcs, I switch to pen and paper and draw the kinds of graphs I have mentioned here: To visually and logically plan out stories
What I dislike about Excel are:
- the vast functionality that is unrelated to writing text into cells, which makes the program cumbersome to use for this purpose
- the visual clutter that comes from this functionality
- the height limit on cells
- limited or awkward styling and editing options (e.g. newlines within cells or alternating background adapting to newly added rows)
Despite these drawbacks, I find using Excel to create characters very helpful. Unless I can find a better tool, such as a spreadsheet for text or a text editor with columns and rows, I will likely stick with it.