NaNoCoDo #2 Main Character

You’re gonna be spending a lot of time with your Main Character, so it’s worth making sure you understand them before you start.

Now, there are plenty of templates around for building a character, but I use a character sheet a bit differently – whether I’m writing for NaNo or working on a my next bestselling (*) novel.

I begin by writing only a few details about my character. I may not know all of these at the start, but that doesn’t matter!

Initial Character Sketch:
Name:
Role in Story:
Appearance:
Personality Traits:
Wants:
Fears:

That’s all I need at this stage. I add details as my writing progresses, so I’ll add “eye colour” to the Appearance section once I know. But I don’t need that at the start. I have to know what s/he wants, as that will drive the story – but there will be smaller details added as I write.

No-one else is going to see these notes, so they don’t have to be grammatically correct, detailed or intelligible to anyone except yourself. (But don’t make them too cryptic or you might have trouble working out what you meant!) I find it best to start defining a new character when I’m sitting on my own in a coffee shop or pub, writing scribbled notes in the A5 notebook that lives in my handbag. It’s almost as if I’m holding a conversation with someone and getting to know them as we chat. If you do this, remember not to actually speak your side of the conversation out loud – you’ll get thrown out if you’re not careful!

I wander round with my main character in my head a lot of the time. I find myself looking at clothes and thinking, “Hey – Chrystal would like that!” Only to remind myself she doesn’t actually exist. This is perfectly normal behaviour for writers. And I have my psychiatrist’s permission to say so. (**)

Spend some time with your MC and add a few details to their initial character sketch. Don’t try to write down everything about them straight away – you’ll do that as you get to know each other. Write down any anecdotes they tell you about their life – can be very useful. Like all good relationships, it takes time to learn to work together.

NanoWriMo: http://nanowrimo.org/ <<– Sign up here.

(*) Hey, I can hope!
(**) Only joking, honest!

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