Creation of Character


I’m ready to get to know my characters!

If you’ve been around my blog long enough then you probably know that I think great characters can save a weak book. If I can latch on to a character, I’m more likely to follow through to the end. That’s why getting the characters right in my novel is so important to me. This is part of the reason I decided to step back and really dive into the creation of my story (or pre-writing processes) before I write any more of my novel.

The more I study the craft, the more I realize how important this pre-writing time is, even for someone who has always considered herself a pantser.

As I work on creating my characters, I’ll be using several resources:

Characters, Emotion, & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress – This book I plan to read in full, before any of the others, since it’s all about character. Viewpoint has been a source of angst for me, so I can’t wait to see what’s in here. I’ve already skimmed through, and it looks like lots of valuable information inside, along with exercises (some of which seem a little scary, if I’m being honest). I’m starting this one tonight.

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, PH.D. – This book is one I will probably use throughout my writing as reference, but I think it will be a helpful tool in the pre-write process as well. This one breaks down personality types, traits, disorders, and more, giving example behaviors and characters. Like the book by Kress, this one also has some exercises to guide you to use the information in writing.

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card – Card’s book is important, since the novel I am writing is in the fantasy genre. Chapter 3 is set aside for Story Construction, which begins with character information. This book will be useful to me later on as well when I get into world building, but for now I’ll be focusing on character.

Writing the Breakout Novel (Workbook) by Donald Maass – It’s a workbook, so there are exercises galore! Part 1 is devoted to character development, broken into multiple sections.

Story Trumps Structure by Steven James – I’m looking forward to reading this one in full when I start world building and working out the details of my story, but there is also a section on characterization that I want to read before then.

The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills – I just ordered this over the weekend after watching DiAnn speak about writing. I share her belief that characters and plot are inseparable, and that a character’s choices must drive the story forward. I’m really looking forward to reading this, and I plan to do so right after I’m done with Kress’s book.

Are you writing? Are you working on your characters or are you beyond that point now? Do you like creating characters or is it the worst part of writing for you? Tell me struggles and victories.

Finding the Groove


write blank page-edited

Finding my writing groove has been hard. I’m what’s known as a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants. No outline. That’s how I’ve always done it, and enjoy doing it.

The thing is that I was writing for me and a few friends; little stories, usually around 20,000 words, sometimes much shorter. There were no subplots. There weren’t a lot of characters. Maybe five at the most that weren’t just extras or bit players, and only one was my POV character.

Writing a novel is different, and I realized that soon after I started. I’m going to need subplots. I’m going to have a larger word count, so I will need more action and character growth. All of this, somehow, has to come from my brain.

I’ve been digging into studying the craft far more than I ever did before. I know now that I am ready to take this task seriously, but I still struggle.

I struggle with structure more than anything. Finding my main character (I just figured that out tonight), picking a historical timeframe to model my fantasy world after, and making the story flow as my thoughts all come together. I’ve realized that I can’t do this as a pantser. Not completely. Not this first novel. The problem for me is that I know I’m not an outliner. I want to write, not outline. I want the story to flow naturally as I continue to learn my characters and watch them grow. I don’t want to be tied to an outline.

The key for me is to find the happy medium. After hearing the processes and methods of several published authors, I’ve learned that the happy medium does exist. That’s where I am now in my process. I’m doing basic outlining while I create characters and build my world. This means coming up with the basic structure and a few key incidents or problems that the characters will face. This gives me the structure to work out any foreseeable issues with the plot, yet gives me the freedom to make changes. This is important, because I’ve already changed aspects of the story (both large and small) and I don’t even have much written. I just keep tweaking it in my head as things come to me.

I have a long way to go. I have lots of research to do, and lots of world building. I’ve chosen a story that will be daunting for my first novel, but it’s the story I want to tell. I’ve decided not to write another word until I’ve done my research and done my basic outlining/plotting process.

Are you a writer? Are you a pantser or an outliner? What makes it work for you? Leave a message in the comments.