Posted in Fiction, Writing

The Writer’s Way

Is there one correct way to write a novel? I say no…….there isn’t. Are there elements of a novel that must be used? Yes…….there is. How do these two entities go together? It’s simple. You take the required elements and use them in a way that suits you and your writing style. Everybody is different, so the way in which we go about writing our book will be different. If you don’t know how you yourself would write a novel, then learn the different methods that have worked for other writers, try them out and go with what suits you. It’s a learning process and might take you a while to figure out what works for you. But it might not take you long at all.

A very important aspect to know is whether or not you are a “pantser” (you make the story up as you go along with no planning) or an out-liner/planner. Now, I’ve come to discover that you can be a little of both. I’m a little of both. I didn’t know this of course until I tried each style and found it difficult to use just one. The one I use at the time I’m writing depends on the part of the story I’m writing. When I get stuck, then I go to planning and thinking, which gets the wheels turning again. Then I’m back to pantsing.

Another important part to note is setting. People like pictures. When we were little, we started out reading picture books and many of our children’s books have pictures. Gradually as we get older, the pictures in the books become less and less. Eventually, all we have are words and it’s up to us to create the pictures in our minds as we’re reading. BUT the author plays a huge role in this part because they are the ones who are creating the pictures for us to see. They’re just not doing it with pictures, instead they’re doing it with words. HOW they do this is up to them. It’s their style of creating that contributes to creating the settings depicted in their novels. You will figure this out as well. I can’t tell you how, but I can give you ideas about how I go about do it. But that’s for another blog post.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the creation of characters. I know how I do it, but I only figured out how to do this by reading how others did it, and used what worked for me. I combined that with a few of my own ideas. So much goes into the creating of a character. We are complex individuals and so are your characters. They have to be complex if they’re going to be believable. In my mind: who a character is on the inside + who a character is on the outside (actions and what they say) = a believable and complex character. See my earlier blog post from May 12 entitled Character Building for more information on this topic.

In the end, it’s YOUR story. Make it yours. Write it YOUR way, but by all means learn from others. Through it all, you will find your style and what works for you.

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Posted in Fiction

Character Building

So much goes into the creation of a storybook character. The goal is to make them as unique as possible so that they stand out to the reader, making them memorable. But to do this you must build them from the ground up. Go from simple to complex. The more complex the character, the more real they become. After all, humans are complex creatures aren’t we?

As a writer and a human, we are all different and have different writing styles and ways of doing things. This method I am about to show you is my way, so take it and mold it into YOUR way. What you’ll notice after you compile all of the information about your characters, is that you won’t use all of it in your story. BUT you will have it in case you DO need it later. Maybe you want to write a book series, so information regarding your character that you didn’t use in the first book might come in handy in later books.

Beginning (Simple): Brainstorm a list of characteristics. These items are more on the surface and feel free to add to it. My list, should I put it all here, would be extremely lengthy.

  • Eye color
  • Hair color
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Ethnic heritage
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Religious beliefs
  • Hobbies
  • Favorite color
  • Physical description
  • Political beliefs
  • Favorite music
  • Style of dress
  • Educational background
  • Description of home
  • Contents of wallet (this can say a lot about a person)
  • Habits

Digging Deeper: Here again, feel free to add your own ideas to this list

  • Strong character trait
  • Weak character trait
  • Best childhood memory
  • Worst childhood memory
  • One line summary of their personality
  • What triggers certain moods
  • What is their ambition
  • Sense of humor
  • What is his/her greatest hope
  • Character’s paradox
  • How does he/she see himself or herself
  • Philosophy of life
  • Character flaw (This is essential to the story because at one point he/she realizes this flaw and is able to overcome it. That’s integral in creating their character arc and accomplishing the story goal)

I keep this list written down in my binder and on my computer. It serves me well throughout the writing of my book. I add to it along the way too. Have fun with it.

Character Name: I created the details of my character before I came up with a name. By doing this I was better able to find a name that suited the description of my character. Some names elicit certain unspoken character traits. At least they do to me. For one of my male characters I ended up changing his name two times. I wasn’t happy with his character, so I tweaked it and changed some things, like his reaction to certain events and people. Then I found a better name that fit. You will have your own way of plugging away through this process. That’s good. Make it your own and happy creating.