Tag Archives: novel writing

Creating Characters

“Stories have a power, a magic all their own. Consider the fact that the actions, thoughts and feelings of people who have no existence in reality can make you laugh, make you weep. That’s the art and that’s the magic.”
―Denise Rossetti

My favorite books are not those with crazy plots or dramatic scenes.  While those don’t hurt, I love them because I love the characters.  They were written so that it made me care about what happened to them.  A connection was made, and I was hooked.

To be able to connect with characters, a writer must be able to express their complex emotional side.  Boring characters will make even the best plot fail.  If you want to create a memorable to story, you have to create memorable characters.  No way around it.

Most of my ideas for a story begin with a character.  They are born in my imagination and slowly begin to grow.  I begin to question who they are, where they’re from, and what they need.  From that, a story forms and my words breathe life into them.

Sounds easier than it actually is.  For me, it’s a long process to get from character to story. Some people help build their character by creating a profile or conducting an interview with their fictional friend.  I’ve never been a huge fan of doing that.

I ask myself a few simple questions to get started and build from there.  

  • How old are they?
  • Where are they from?
  • What is their home life?
  • What personality type are they?


Once I figure out the answers to those questions, I move on to my favorite part.  Research.  Age, setting, family and different personality types all contribute to building a believable character that readers can connect to.  After I have the building blocks of my character laid out, I know how they will act and where to take their story.

I have a notebook FILLED with different character sketches, personality types, body language… You name it, I’ve researched it!  If you’d like a copy of any of them, let me know.  I’d be happy to send them to you or post them here!

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Revision Massacre

My helpless novel is currently sprawled around me in tiny, bloody pieces.  It’s been hacked, chopped and ripped to shreds.  The remnants are scattered about in no logical sequence, leaving me staring at the mess with bloody hands.  

I’ve accepted the fact that it was bound to happen some time.  It was basically dead to begin with.  Luckily, even as my inner critic tells me it’s not worth saving, I still feel a slight heart beat.  Like a surgeon carefully and methodically saving a life,  I’m determined to piece it back together, stronger than it was before.  

There is one slight problem.  This surgeon never went to medical school.  For the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to mash the mess together with out the proper tools and hope it miraculously comes back to life.  The harder I tried, the worse it got leaving me overwhelmed and my beloved characters begging me to save them.  

I knew I had to change my plan or risk destroying it even further.  

First, I had to take a step back and regain my focus.  Because I wrote the first draft so quickly, it’s filled with inconsistencies and serious structural problems.  

Next came the tedious task of reading it from beginning to end (no matter how painful), figuring out the problems, and plotting out a new, detailed outline.  I had to remind myself to trust my instincts and not be afraid of making big changes, which I did.  I added characters, removed characters, and changed a major part of the plot.  What I was left with, was an organized system for putting the pieces together.   

My manuscript still remains in critical condition, but I can finally look at it with out a sense of dread.  

How do you approach the revision process?  Do you find it daunting or exciting?




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Stuck in a writing rut?

Me too…My typical excitement for the new year and my novel has mysteriously disappeared.  Instead of approaching my computer with enthusiasm, I find myself dreading it or worse avoiding it all together. 

There are countless articles out there with tips on how to overcome writer’s block.  But what if you are just lacking motivation?  Based on advice that I have read and some of my own experience, I have come up with a couple of things that seem to work for me. 

  • Read – I either re-read one of my favorite books or one in the same genre that I’m currently writing.  This usually reminds me why I’m writing in the first place – to craft a beautiful, brilliant story! 
  • Other artistic outlets – When i’m in a slump, picking up a paintbrush or my camera can usually get my creative juices flowing again. 
  • Tackle my to-do list – Sometimes items I have been putting off weigh heavily on my mind and I just can’t concentrate on writing.  Crossing a nagging task of of my to-do list helps alleviate the burden and allows me to regain focus. 
  • Write anyways – This is a common one listed to help get over writer’s block.  There are days when you just have to force your self to write.  Jotting down lists, working on a new story, or even writing in my journal helps me get back in the swing of things.
  • Take a couple days off – There are times when none of these work and I just need a “writing vacation.”  I have to remind myself that its OK to take a break every once in a while.  The perfectionist in me wants to get everything done right away and flawless, but that typically leaves me feeling overwhelmed and burned out.  This gives me a chance to clear my head and approach my writing with more focus. 

My novel has left me feeling very overwhelmed lately, so I took a “writing vacation.”  I spent the week trying to not feel guilty about not working on it and figured out what was really bothering me.  As I’ve been revising my very rough draft the plot and characters began to detach.   

Every time I sat down to work on it I felt lost and wasn’t sure how to bring it back together, which has left me very discouraged.  After taking a couple of days off I’ve been able to work up an outline and clear plan of attack. 

What helps you when writing seems overwhelming or discouraging?  I’d love to hear your solutions!

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Writing resolutions

I stumbled across an article written by Kimberly Turner on LitReactor suggesting 13 resolutions to make you a more productive writer in 2013.  She suggests tackling your resolutions one month at a time instead of trying to do a massive overhaul all at once.  I chose a couple of her suggestions to focus on in January.

  • I will finish a chapter in my novel.

I’m basically starting my novel from scratch, using my very rough draft as more of an outline.  With some extra motivation and creative time management, my goal is to complete one chapter a week. 

  • I will improve my writing space.

I get distracted easily.  My couch or bed tends to be my usual writing space, which is fine every once in a while.  I know I’d get much more down if I took a more professional approach.  It’s too easy to flip on the TV and lose my train of thought.  Everything needs a home, my creativity included!

Have you thought of any writing resolutions for 2013?  Don’t be shy.  I’d love to hear your goals for the new year!

(You can read the full article at www.litreactor. com!)

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