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 . . .


Scrivener and Setting Summaries

Scrivener is still helping me write.

In Scrivener and Scene Summaries, I wrote about using a template for asking a series of questions about a scene to ensure I making the most of the opportunity to engage readers in the story.

I’ve added a second template where I ask myself the following questions about the setting of the scene.

  • Role In Story
  • Related Characters
  • Unique Features
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Sounds
  • Smells
  • Objects
  • Notes

This helps in several ways.

  1. I keep track of how many times a use the same setting. Sometimes it’s easy to write about the same setting, but maybe that’s a lazy way to write. i follow this up by asking myself, could be the scene be set somewhere else that would further the plot and make the story more interesting?
  2. If I use a setting more than once, this is a memory aid for keeping the descriptions consistent and for not repeating details.
  3. If I don’t fill out enough of the points, I haven’t put enough effort into describing the setting.
  4. I use the notes section to remind myself of how I want to use the setting later in the novel, Perhaps I’ve used setting for foreshadowing and I want to remember to follow through later in the story.
How do you ensure your settings work for you and move your story forward?
Thanks for reading . . .


Scrivener versus Word: Spellchecker

Since I’ve written about Scrivener before, I wanted to share something I discovered today.

I think Microsoft Word has a better spellchecker.

I ran the spellchecker in Scrivener and found no issues. Just out of curiosity, not sure why, I decided to compile the document as MS Word and then run the spellchecker in MS Word.

MS Word found an error: Barreling.

MS Word wanted to change this to: Barrelling.

I have my software set to Canadian English, hence the difference in spelling. Being cautious, I checked the Oxford English Dictionary, and sure enough barrelling with two r’s and two l’s is the correct form.

Now I’m going to check spelling in both types of software before submitting to my agent.

Anyone else had this problem?

Thanks for reading . . .

For another review of Scrivener, see

Scrivener and Scene Summaries

Do you keep track of your scenes? Do you summarize what’s in a scene. I used to use a spreadsheet exclusively to do this until I discovered I can use Scrivener. (I still use a spreadsheet for a more complete list that I can sort.)

In Scrivener, for each scene I note:

  • Chapter Number
  • Name of Scene
  • Point of View
  • Point of Scene
  • Tension
  • Revelation
  • Hook – ask yourself: why would a reader keep reading?
  • Character introduction and description
  • Date and Time of Day
  • Scene Description
  • Scene Dependency
  • Other – anything I want to remember. This could be a scene I want to add later. A description that needs updating. Just little reminders I still have word to do.

How does this relate to Scrivener, you ask?

I created a template in Scrivener by copying the relevant cells from and Excel spreadsheet and pasting them into a newly created template in Scrivener.

Then for each scene I insert the template underneath and to the right of the scene so I have the template linked to each scene. As I review each scene, I fill out the template. If I can’t fill out a line then I know I have work to do.

You can choose to compile the scene template with your novel or leave it out. If I’m printing a draft version, I might print the scene template so I can work on paper for a while. If I’m compiling and I only want the novel, I unclick the Include-In-Compile button.

It’s fun to discover new techniques to work with. Always, always learning . . .

Do you have information you keep track of for each scene that helps you make the scene better?

Thanks for reading . . .

I wrote a blog with my review of the Scrivener software that might help…

Scrivener and Novels

Do you use Scrivener to write? I’m looking for input.

It’s been recommend to me by several writers, so I thought I’d try it. I’ve been using it for a week. If you’ve been reading my posts you know I can’t write a novel without a spreadsheet. It’s how I keep track of details.

One of my favourite things to do with a spreadsheet is to sort the columns. I can quickly see how may times I use a POV, Location, Characters etc. In Keeping Track Of Scenes I list some of the things I put in a spreadsheet.

Do do this in Scrivener I used the outline page and added fields to the custom meta-data section. This seems to work okay.

I’m going to use Scrivener for the trial period and then decide whether to buy it.

Can you share with me your favourite Scrivener feature and how you use it?

I’m hesitant to move away from my current method, but if this is a better way then I will.

Looking for help. Thanks, 🙂