Saturday, January 26, 2008

Character Cards

I've been looking around for a character worksheet or template that would be useful and easy for every one to use, no matter where they are with their story. A lightbulb went off when my son was talking about the Yu-Gi-Oh tournament he's playing in this weekend: trading cards. We have them for RPGs, baseball players and enemies of the Bush admnistration, why not fictional characters?

What better way to remember important character stats?

I made this one in a hurry with an online Trading Card Maker, but I imagine you could come up with your own design, images, links to your web site, ISBN#'s and so forth. You authors out there, this would be a very unique and inexpensive way to do promo on your series novels or backlist; something you could hand out like bookmarks but way more fun.

What do you all think? Also, could we use these for something other than characters?

36 comments:

  1. battlekitty10:03 AM

    Lynn,
    Yes, yes, I love this idea. I wish I was a writer so I could have fun with my characters like this! Instead I'm a reader, but I could get the card for the book I'm reading and use it as a bookmark. I wouldn't have to keep closing the book to look at the cover to drool over the hot guy there!

    Tami
    Jacksonville

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  2. Anonymous11:27 AM

    Way ahead of you, actually. I made a trading card game for one of my first novels in eighth grade, complete with rules for an actual game. Came in handy when I was stuck and looking for plot twists.

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  3. Lynn -

    This is brilliant.

    Best,

    Doug

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  4. I think this would be a great way to organize locations and organizations within your work as well, especially if you have to do a lot of world building. What better way to remember tidbits about a made-up town, country, or government than with trading cards? Or even houses, if you do historical fiction. The possibilities are endless.

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  5. I started doing this a couple of years ago for my SG-5 characters, bought licenses for the photos I was going to use, etc. I ended up making a couple of postcards through VistaPrint, but this is so cool I may do it!

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  6. I agree with Tami from Jacksonville. It would be a way-cool way to have Lucan on hand for easy drooling.

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  7. It's a great idea for adults, but wouldn't it also be a way to make reading desirable for the YA crowd? Or a cool way for those who already read to participate with trading cards for heroes they care about?

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  8. Sweet! I love the idea. I can sketch my characters in detail, but this sounds like more fun.

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  9. Wow! What a great idea. I like it for all the uses -- promotion and tracking for characters.

    Loving Evermore by the way. I'm very intrigued by clues I think you've given.

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  10. OMG! be still my heart . . .
    Bad BAD Boy Lucan! ***drool***
    Great job Lynn. Love how you emphasized his silver eyes, silver-blonde hair with the border. And "Talent: Shatter" - nice, palatable euphemism for the Death Darkyn. :)

    You're once again moving in new directions, uncharted territory. Excellent promotional idea.

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  11. Truly inspired idea, and what fun! This would be great for promoting. It could also be used for locations or special weapons, for those who world build. You could, conceivably, make an entire game with your cards.

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  12. That is a great idea. I would use them as bookmarks. I would love to see one for Val. He's my favorite.

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  13. What a terrific idea. Those look great and would work fantastic. Thank you!!!

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  14. Awesome idea (I'll trade you two Lucan for a Byrne and a Robin). :)

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  15. Mary28:12 PM

    Richard... make one for Richard! :)

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  16. Wow - I love this! What a great idea!

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  17. Belinda wrote: I think this would be a great way to organize locations and organizations within your work as well, especially if you have to do a lot of world building. What better way to remember tidbits about a made-up town, country, or government than with trading cards? Or even houses, if you do historical fiction.

    Agreed, excellent suggestion. In my case I could use them for the different planets I've created for my SF series, or the different alien species -- I've got about four dozen spread over eight novels, so they'd rate their own deck.

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  18. Jean wrote: It's a great idea for adults, but wouldn't it also be a way to make reading desirable for the YA crowd? Or a cool way for those who already read to participate with trading cards for heroes they care about?

    Definitely, Jean. I think it would be a great way for YA authors to connect with their readers; kids are universally nuts about trading cards and collect them like squirrels do acorns.

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  19. bran fan10:39 AM

    If one is published, one can use the artwork from the cover. How about the pre-published? Where can I find interesting-looking people to be on my card, without violating other people's copyright?

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  20. I did more cruising around and found some extra links to check out:

    Me, Alison and Anonymous aren't the only ones who got this idea; Read Write Think.org has an online Character Trading Cards template for students with sections to fill in with description, insights, development, statements and actions, and your impressions of your character. It's not as customizable as the online trading card maker I used, but it prints out both sides of a nice basic card you can fold and immediately use.

    Plaincards.com has a free download for their Quickcards trading card maker shareware that looks interesting (not available for Macs). As with all freebies, be sure to scan the free download for bugs before you put it on your hard drive.

    Bella Online has a good article about making artist trading cards here.

    L. suggests authors might want to use the trading card format for their author pics and business card info, to hand out while networking at SF/F, comic and other RPG-friendly conferences.

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  21. bran fan wrote: Where can I find interesting-looking people to be on my card, without violating other people's copyright?

    You can take your own pictures of people and obtain a model release from them, or purchase photos from sites that have model released, royalty-free images. If you go with the latter, be sure to read the terms of use very carefully in the event you need to buy an extended license to use the image as you wish. You may also be required to post a copyright/photo credit line.

    If you choose to use art or photos that are in the public domain (Gimp-Saavy, for example, is a site with 27,000 of them) you would have to use images that have already been released by the model or alter/photoshop them enough so that they are unrecognizable as the original model/image.

    There are some reasonably-priced image/clip art programs out there with royalty-free pics for you to use; but the same conditions that apply to public domain art are applicable to these -- be sure to read the terms and conditions of use included with the software.

    The absolute easiest, headache-free way is to draw, paint or photoshop your own concept of your character. If it's your original art, and it's not based on a real person, no one can tell you what to do with it or how to use it.

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  22. Brilliant, love it.

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  23. Thanks for the suggestions! I love trading cards and always have. What a wonderful way of keeping track of your worlds, key characters, side characters (especially if you have to revisit them some day). I draw my own characters using Gimp, so this would work out for me. LOL. Thanks again Lynn, this has my mind rolling with possibilities.

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  24. One more link for branfan and those of you who are looking to create character portraits:

    The Morphases Editor helps you to create new faces online with composites (individual features taken from a number of faces and blended together to create a new image.) This one is fun to play with, and quite addicting, so be warned. :)

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  25. Brilliant idea, Lynn. I think it would work very well for your books. Heck, I'd love it for my books - if I ever get them published. =oD

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  26. So when will the Darkyn trading card set be available?

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  27. Bethany wrote: So when will the Darkyn trading card set be available?

    Lol. I might put together a set after I slay this deadline. If I do, you all want to have a giveaway for them? I can't promise they'll be printer-quality, but I have sketches of all the characters, and I think I can do a fair job with the cards.

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  28. Giveaways are great. I'd play.

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  29. This is indeed a stroke of genius idea. I've never done a series, but knowing my penchant for completely forgetting all the details, I can see these not only as promotional items, but as excellent reminders!! FABULOUS IDEA!

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  30. I was absolutely inspired by this! I made my own:

    http://moirarogers.com/?q=node/60

    I think this was such a wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing!

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  31. I love it! A great way to keep up with each character's personal statistics and a lot of fun to collect. I'd buy them. : )

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  32. I found a site that allows you to whittle down character traits into a trading card like size. http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/trading_cards
    Neat concept when you are in the beginning stages of creating a character.

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  33. Try out http://TradingCardMaker.NET/, it is interactive so you can watch your card come to life as you make it, plus can be customized lots of ways, font/color/graphics/etc.

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  34. Anonymous9:45 PM

    How would printing these into professional cards work? Would I need to take the pictures to a print store or something, and ask them to print them?

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    1. You culd probably get them printed at a Kinkos or Office Depot. Check with your local printing service providers to see what they need to do the work.

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