Monday, October 31, 2011

So You Want To Do NaNoWriMo? #2

Only a few more hours left until National Novel Writing Month begins. Well... at least here in the mid-west. Are you ready? In case you missed it - check out my first blog post with my last-minute tips.

Last night, I gave some ideas on how to start brainstorming your story. Tonight I'm going to talk to you about character.

Every story has a character. Whether you like your stories to be character driven or not - you still need to have them. Believable characters = believable story.

If you don't have any characters fleshed out yet, start with your Main Character (MC)... obviously. They are the one the story is happening to. Your MC is the one who drives the plot. Everything is about them and their journey. If you don't have an MC - you don't have a story.

You don't need to have your MC perfect yet. It's only the day before NaNoWriMo starts and they need room to grow. I'm always amazed at how my MC grows and changes as the month goes on. So if you don't know every single detail like what their favorite type of ice cream is yet - don't worry. You don't need to know.

You do need to have an idea of who they are though.

What do they look like? Visualize their face, body type, style of clothing, eyes, etc. Start writing down random physical traits they have. Does your MC have any odd bodily quirks like being double jointed (or maybe they are missing a joint in a finger!)? Any tattoos or piercings? What time period (or world) do they live in? How does this affect their appearance? What about their place in society - would this affect how they look?

Personality. Sometimes this can be harder than figuring out what the character looks like - or at least describing personality. Especially when you want it to be a character that is realistic and with more than one or two dimensions. Think about their hopes and dreams.  Do they have any bad habits or vices? Are they good at anything particular? How would their friends and family describe them? How would their enemies describe them? How would they describe themselves?

One thing that I learned helped me this year was using True Colors. I learned about color personality types when I was in a leadership program a few months ago. It's easy to remember, understand, and organize. You can find those types here. They are pretty general and broad - but it's a good starting point. In my planning notebook I have a page for each character's personality and at the top I put their color. It helped me to flesh out their character. You can also use Meyer's Briggs but it's a bit more complicated.

Also think about what your setting is like. That could have an influence on your character. If you are writing a fantasy and your character is an elf - there are going to be certain things your character is going to have to have because of this. If your MC is a different race than you - you need to research that and plan accordingly. Or if you are doing a retelling of a story. For example: I re-tell fairy tales. So my MC's tend to be Snow White, Cinderella, etc. Because MC is Snow White - she's going to have to look a certain way. Or Cinderella- the prince falls in love with her at a ball so I need to figure out what is so alluring about her to make this happen.

Put into consideration your story too. This seems obvious - but your MC and your story need to go together. Is it realistic that your character is being put into the situations you are putting them into? If it isn't realistic - how are you going to make it believable?

So... there you go! Some things to think about as you are creating your main character (and maybe some supporting characters).

Now what are you doing still reading this blog post! Go create your character! If you're still stuck - it's Halloween. Go spy on the weird people in costumes and get some ideas.


And share with me your MC - or maybe a favorite MC from a book, movie, or TV that you ADORE!

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