Character Development

Anyone else out there spending the holidays thinking about their characters in a novel instead of real people? A hazard of being a writer, I’m afraid.

Introducing new characters, especially if you are writing a series can be a challenge.

Do you ask yourself:

  • What did the character do before the start of the novel?
  • How did they enter the protagonists life?
  • What motivates them?

I find even if I ask these questions it’s not enough for build a well-rounded character.

I use Scrivener to write, and I add a section for scenes that happen before the novel starts. When introducing a new character I ask myself, what was the character doing one month before the novel started, 6 months before and sometimes well back into their youth. Then I write a scene from this time frame. Something dramatic that happened in their lives that changed them usually works. This helps to fill out the character and know them before the story has even started.

You don’t have to do this before you begin writing, sometimes I do this after the first draft. Once I discovered a character fit the criteria of a sociopath. After writing the first draft, then writing scenes that happened prior to the opening,  the sociopath opened up some interesting story lines. These, of course, found their way into the second draft.

For me, it’s not enough to ask questions about my characters, I need to write about them to understand them.

What about you?

Thanks for reading . . .


Does a routine help you write or . . .

Do you write anytime or anywhere?

I find I write best if I have a routine, but life doesn’t alway cooperate. I’m able to write during random times during the day or when I have a free half hour here or there, but what really gets me is too much external input.

I find can’t write while on a long distance drive, but I can write while on a plane. Could be because there is too much to see in the passing landscape along the highway, but really, on a plane? What’s to see.

I can write while I’m alone on a walk (digital recorder is much easier and safer than a pen while walking). But if someone is with me, it’s pretty rude to work on a novel instead of socializing with a walking partner, so no writing during social times.

I can write while we are sailing, assuming my husband is at the helm and the water is flat. Rough water = no writing.

I can write if a TV is on in another room. But I can’t write if music is on. TV – boring. Music – interesting.

I can write in very short periods of time but not if there are too many interesting things going on around me.

When do you write best? Do you get frustrated when you can’t get enough writing time?

Thanks for reading . . .

Novels: Point of a Scene – Is there one or should you cut it?

Is There One or Should You Cut It?

I’ve often read the advice that a novelist should be able to summarize their novel in one to two sentences. This made me start thinking about scenes and chapters.

I asked myself if I knew the point of a scene, and if I didn’t should I cut – yes the dreaded word cut – the scene from the novel? It’s easy to get attached to a scene for many reasons but if there is no point, then I ask you what is the point? J

I challenged myself to go through my latest novel and write one sentence describing the point of the scene.

Taking this one level deeper, and adding a new column to my spreadsheet, I tried to reduce the sentence to one word that described the scene.

This did a couple of things for me.

  1. It showed me what to cut. Ouch.
  2. I helped me organize my chapters into a theme.

The second item was a surprise and created a new way for me to look at organizing chapters.

How do you decide it a scene is needed or not?

Thanks for reading . . .