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citymouse
04-08-2009, 10:19 PM
Hello, I’ve not posted in this forum before but I have a question that seems to fit here. I’ve gotten a response from an agent who, in addition to the standard query letter, synopsis and chapter samples, has asked for a “Character Sheet”.
I know Character Sheets are used in building character traits for animated games e.g. physical / temperament / supernatural qualities. These are very complex outlines. They are much more so than I’m used to in writing.

I’ve not come across this type of request from a literary agent before.

Is it common to ask a novelist for a Character Sheet?

What would a suitable Character Sheet for a novel look like? Are there standard formats for such a document?

I’m also wondering what an agent would do with a Character Sheet. Is this used as a device to determine how deeply the author knows his/her characters? Would an agent use this to assess the author more than the work itself?

Thanks you so much for your time.

Puzzled,
Citymouse

Danthia
04-08-2009, 10:40 PM
I've never heard of a character sheet or have had any agent ask me for one. Perhaps he wants a list of characters with a bit about them? If you're sure this is a legitimate agent (I ask only because this is an odd request) then you could see if he had a website or blog that shows samples of what he wants. If there are none, maybe just give a paragraph per character that shows their conflicts, goals and stakes?

dawinsor
04-08-2009, 11:46 PM
I've never heard of an agent asking for a "character sheet."

citymouse
04-09-2009, 12:03 AM
I misspoke. It's called a Character Generator. I got a sample copy (pdf) It's 10 pages long and there is supposed to be one for each prominent character. Yikes!
This agent works with other agents in a company. It looks like she's the only one who asks for one of these. She was referred to me by a writer friend for possible representation but she's not accepting any work at the moment, so I'm off the hook as far as this thing goes.
I have to admit at first glance the CG might be a helpful tool in keeping multiple characters straight. Still, I can't but wonder how useful it would be to anyone other than the author or someone building a format other than a novel. Also, getting a cover letter, synopsis, and sample is work enough without a bunch of these.
I can send a pdf copy via PM to anyone who wants one. As I said before I never heard a Character Generator and I thought someone here may shed some light on it.
C

Cyia
04-09-2009, 12:05 AM
When an agent asked me for a proposal for a novel series, part of it was a bulleted character overview. I would assume a "character sheet" is similar to this (in this instance).

In my case it was:

* [character 1 name]: 1-2 paragraphs of general character history/personality/function in story.


* [character 2 name]: 1-2 paragraphs of general character history/personality/function in story.


I did this for the main characters and important secondaries.

EDIt: Cross posted with OP, so... nevermind.

citymouse
04-09-2009, 12:28 AM
Actually the example I have is much more detailed and structured.
C



When an agent asked me for a proposal for a novel series, part of it was a bulleted character overview. I would assume a "character sheet" is similar to this (in this instance).

In my case it was:

* [character 1 name]: 1-2 paragraphs of general character history/personality/function in story.


* [character 2 name]: 1-2 paragraphs of general character history/personality/function in story.


I did this for the main characters and important secondaries.

EDIt: Cross posted with OP, so... nevermind.

victoriastrauss
04-09-2009, 10:27 PM
Um. I question the professionalism of this agent. It's one thing to ask for a character list as part of a book proposal, but I have never heard of any agent doing this as part of a standard submission. I can't imagine what possible use it would be, since a character sheet or description or whatever tells you nothing about how successfully the author realizes those characters. Only the manuscript can do that.

Who's the agent? I'd also be interested in seeing the character generator. PM me here or contact me via email at beware@sfwa.org.

- Victoria