Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Novel Writing Step by Step - Part Two

Developing the Characters in a Novel
Characters are the people (or animals) that a story is about. It is important to create characters that your readers can connect with and form an attachment to. By the time they read the last page, they should care about the characters and what is happening to them.

Where do I Start
Once you have the basic storyline in your head, it’s time to start fleshing out the characters. Start with the main one and work your way down to the others. The main character is referred to as the protagonist and is central to the story. Some novels have two protagonists such as a romance story that is developed from the point of view of the man and woman.

Setting up Character Profiles
Most writers can picture the people they write about. If you struggle with this, look through magazines for photographs that match the vague ideas you’re working with. Another idea is to type a simple description into Google Images – young female red hair, for example - and choose a picture to work from. Then write out a profile and include information such as the following:
· Full name
· Date of birth
· Place of birth
· Physical description
· Career
· Education
· Type of home
· Habits – good and bad
· Dietary preferences
· Love life
· Hobbies and interests
· Dreams and ambitions
· Friends and enemies

How to Make the Characters Real
Don’t create perfect people because they don’t exist. Decide whether the character is a villain or a hero or heroine and work from there. Remember that even the darkest criminals are human and this can be shown by including scenes such as grief over a dying pet or a wounded family member. Heroes should be shown as flawed but working on their weaknesses. Readers relate to believable characters so even if the heroine is beautiful, give her a problem area like big feet or flyaway hair.

It can be great fun creating fictional people and they often morph and develop as the writing process continues. Set up a profile to work from but be open to changing details as you progress.

Next week we’ll look at how to outline the chapters of a novel.

Read Part One here

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101 , Take Root and Write and Faithwriters.

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