It’s time to plan for National Novel Writing Month, and I can help! Tomorrow at the Write Now! Mastermind class, I’ll be talking to Angela Ackerman about building great characters. If you’re not signed up yet, you can do so here.
If you need even more help, check out Angela Ackerman’s post Building Authentic Heroes using Attributes and enter to win one of her amazing books on character traits.
I’m also giving away a copy of Write-A-Thon this week, so take a look at how to enter below. Today’s tip teaches you three tools for developing character!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
I collect lines and snippets of things somebody might say—things I overhear, things I see in the newspaper, things I think up, dream up, wake up with in the middle of the night. I write a line down in my notebook. If I can get enough of those things, then characters begin to emerge. —Richard Ford
I enjoy a twisting plot but I tend to fall in love with well-drawn, intriguing characters. If the characters are rich, I quote their words to friends as if they’re real people. I’ve even dreamt about a few of my favorite fictional characters—including my own.
Many writers talk about being able to hear their characters in their head, often as they are doing other things. Lately, I’ve been working hard and watching too much television. I don’t read enough, and I haven’t been writing much. I’m hoping to participate in National Novel Writing Month, but the characters in my book have been way too quiet. Over the weekend, as I cleaned the house and did the laundry, it occurred to me that I won’t hear my characters’ voices until I slow down and listen.
So here’s my plan. I’m giving up television and movies for the next few weeks. I’m blocking out some time to doodle and dream about my characters. I’m also planning on taking some idle time, as I’ve found that characters tend to speak to me when I’m walking or napping. Here are three tools I’ll be using:
1. The Mind Map. I mind map everything from article ideas to chapter content. The mind map can also be a good tool for developing characters. Here is a mind map with some of the categories you will want to fill in for your characters.
2. The Genogram. The genogram is a chart that displays a person’s family relationships, much like a family tree. I use genograms to chart the relationships between characters in my books. A quick read of the Wikipedia article on genograms can help you understand and use the various symbols. If you want a more thorough understanding, I like the book Genograms in Family Assessment by Monica McGoldrick.
3. The Proust Questionnaire. In 19th century Great Britain, many people kept confession books. These journal-like books offered a list of questions for friends and visitors to answer. Proust answered one, and since then it has become common for writers to share their own on blogs or in magazines. Why not create on for each of your characters?
There are more ideas for character development in my book, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). You can enter to win a copy below.
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