The default character sketch template in Scrivener for Windows works well enough if you want to track a few key details about the characters in your novel. It can also be edited to add more information or take it away. But have you ever wanted to just start from scratch and create a brand-new template of your own that works exactly the way you like it? This post will show you how.
The first thing to do, of course, is consider what you want your new template to look like. One thing I knew starting out was that there were many things I didn’t like about the Scrivener default template. For one thing, it has headings in bold, which seems just fine until you try to add text and find that it also appears in bold. For example, if you type “Protagonist” after “Role in Story:”, it appears in the exact same font and formatting, meaning headings don’t look like headings at all! For a while, I went to the trouble of highlighting the text I’d added and manually readjusting, but that’s a hassle I don’t need in my life. I decided the best thing to do was to have bold headings on a separate line, with secondary headings beneath it in the same font I would use for adding information. Now I have a bold header for “Identity” with lines beneath like “Name:” and “Gender:”. Much better.
One tip I did take from Scrivener’s default, though, is that you can set the Synopsis section to display a picture instead of text. While this section might typically display an overview of events in a particular scene, here it can be used as a reference photo. For those wondering how to do this in Scrivener version 1, simply look for the up and down arrows in the Synopsis section and click the image as opposed to the notecard.
In version 3, click the icon located in the same place.
In Scrivener 1, additional reference photos, documents, and links can be added in the Document References section below, so it’s important to consider what you’d like in the main section of your template as opposed to what could optionally be added here. If you’re not sure how to do this, click the plus sign with the downward arrow. I used the “Look Up & Add External Reference” option because I had images saved to my hard drive. “Create External Reference” can also be used to link to a web page, but I prefer not to use this for anything I can download because websites can change or disappear. I tend to use it instead for links to sites I often use for writing purposes, like favorite baby name sites.
In Scrivener version 3, you will see a separate tab for Document Bookmarks instead. Click the three dots to Add External Bookmark or Add External File Bookmark. You can also click and drag files here.
Here’s an example sheet for one of my characters that includes an image of her favorite hairstyle on top and reference photos for the uniform she wears below.
Here’s the same in Scrivener 3, with the Document Bookmarks tab open.
In version 3, the photos show when you click on them. To open the linked references in version 1, I like to right click and use “Open in Default Editor” so that the image comes up in a separate window I can close when finished.
If you want more tips about how to come up with categories for your template or to see a full sample of my template, check out my previous post on creating character sheets for fiction writing.
Once you’re ready to create the template, go down to the Templates section and create a plain document. After that, you can name it, change its icon, and style it up however you want.
It’s just that easy! Now, whenever you want to use it, you can create a document as “New From Template” (or just click the plus icon in version 3) and select the template you made. Use it for as many characters you want and enjoy!