Last Monday I kicked off NaNoWriMo with a big day and I’ve been riding the wave of a couple of thousand banked words since then. With an extra hour on my clock today, I hope to move a little further ahead.
I’ve been learning some things about my main character and her friends in the past week. It’s the first draft of the second novel in a series I have planned. I just finished the first draft of the first book at the end of October, so I’m not dreaming up new characters — well, some are new; victims and suspects, mostly — or a new environment for them to live in.
Restraining myself from going back to make changes in the first novel has been one of my biggest battles. I did allow myself to make minor changes — the name of one character is different now, so I let myself do a global replace a couple of days ago. But otherwise, I’ve been making notes.
So far, I haven’t had to bring in the ninjas — a suggestions from some of my long-time NaNo friends about what to do when you get stuck. I know I have to raise the stakes for the main characters as the book goes along, but I don’t think ninjas really fit into my plot.
I’ve also got a rough idea of where I’m going. As I turn more and more into a “plantser,” I find a tendency to figure out what I need and make a Scrivener notecard for it, then go back to what I was doing. I still start out knowing very little. I like to keep things surprising — even to me.
Instead, I’ve been focusing on deepening my understanding of my characters’ back stories. I have a feeling I’ll be doing a bit of that today. I tend to put that in files that aren’t part of the novel, so I don’t usually include that in my word count. It’s legit, but they won’t be part of the final draft anyway, so why put them there now? We’ll see where I am come Nov. 30.
I hope you’re having a good NaNo! And remember, use all the words.
Yesterday, I had lunch with some writer friends. When we meet, we always have a writing agenda and yesterday we were talking about character development. In the course of the discussion, we also talked about writers who do that well. I’ve made a note to read a couple of books by Maeve Binchy and an old classic, Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore. We can always learn by reading other writers. If, by some chance, you have missed Shirley Jackson, here’s a quick intro to her work. Put her on your list.
I like to find less common sources of character-building inspiration. This post from Writer Unboxed provides several. Read one, pick a trait and use it as a writing prompt when you feel stuck on a character.
People have pets, even people in fiction. Where would Dorothy be without Toto? Timmy without Lassie? Hermione without Crookshanks? James without Koko and Yum Yum?
Before you give your character a pet, consider what that choice might imply about him or her.
8 Things Your Pet Says About Your Personality | TIME
When a story is character driven, characters need to be well enough developed to move things along. Presence or absence of behaviors from this list could make for some interesting people.
Get to know one of your characters better by writing about how doing one of these things might change her or him.