So. By now, you hopefully have a story idea. You know (sort of) what your book is about and you have that idea that makes it so beautiful.
But what about the characters?
I firmly believe that characters are the most important part of a story. When I look at my favorite books, or even just books that fill me with a warm feeling, they all have one thing in common.
The characters. I love them. (or hate them. yet I still love them? dunno how that works ...)
But what if you don't have a character yet? What if you don't know what kind of hero needs to step up for your new idea? Or what if you have an idea, but it just doesn't seem quite enough? You look at this character and keep asking the same question.
Who are you?
The surest way to do that is to write them.
For some people, it takes a whole first draft until they really know their character. For others, it could take even three drafts.
But right now, let's focus on what we can do before we start our stories. What we need to know before we start.
(Technically, you don't NEED to know much at all. But knowing the basics can really save you some editing.)
Who was your character before the book started? What were they doing the day before your book begins? An hour before?
What happened to your character to make them who they are today? Knowing their past experiences can really help you anticipate how they handle things and how they see the world.
Fear and Desire
Fears like, "What if I'm not good enough?" "What if no one likes me?" "What if I'm getting all this wrong?" "What if everyone is lying to me, and I'm really not important or special or worth anything at all?"
Fears. Lies. You get the gist.
If you're writing a sequel, ask yourself a few questions to refresh yourself about them, and then more. How do the events in book one change them? If a certain fear was eased in their plot arc, or a certain desire fulfilled, what replaces that now?
When I started planning The Thief's Conspiracy, I took this test for my two main characters. It's sooooo helpful in getting to know them. Even if you're not really sure about your charrie yet, even if you don't know them thaaaaat well, I'd still recommend you take it, and then read about the type. Some stuff might not be accurate yet, but a lot of it will and it will help immensely in fleshing them out in your mind.
And this is just SO MUCH FUN, OKAY?!?
There are lots of characters aesthetics you can make. Collages, songs, drawings. But there's this one really cool one where you put together words for aesthetics and like WHAT EVEN IT IS SO COOL. Like, we're writers. And we get to make pretty, writer-y things for our characters?!?! I think YES.
I'm not sure where exactly this originated, but I heard about it from Carlyn Ross on the GTW facebook group and YOU SHOULD TOTALLY DO IT FOR YOUR CHARRIES BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU THINK ABOUT WHO THEY ARE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. Like. You describe bits of them, little parts that people see, and it carries this weight that means much more than just an outward thing. It's so much deeper than that.
I'm going to give you an example because I FEEL LIKE IT and also The Thief's Conspiracy DID just turn a year old on the second, and I feel the need to celebrate somehow.
And I give to you Rissa's character aesthetic.
Clenched jaw, aching ribs, fists at sides, wrists shackled with burning iron, glaring eyes, heavy heart, scarred back, long dark hair, bloody knuckles, empty eyes, soft voice, gentle steps, a secret place deep inside no one can see, no one can control.
There're also character collages and pinterest boards were are also REALLY FUN AND YOU SHOULD TOTALLY MAKE THEM. I like to make character collages and book collages and put them as my desktop background and then I get ALL DA FEEEEEEEELS. *doubles over and howls*
There are loads more things you can do for your charries, but those are some of my favorites. And now I shall do as I did last week and give you some pictures to inspire you, in case you don't have a character yet or need to flesh one out!
Picture 1: the farm girl
Look. Notice. Ask questions.
Picture 2: the boat boy
Who is this boy? Is he a repairman, down below to fix something wrong with the ship? If so, what went wrong and how? Why is he down there alone? Is he a pirate? Why is he down there? Maybe he's harvesting something that the ships catch when sailing through these special waters. What is that thing, and why does he want it? Who will he sell it to? And how did he end up becoming a pirate? Are these ships full of people or abandoned? Maybe he's a poor boy (could be orphaned) that's looking for something to scavenge, and he's about to brave the ropes and climb up to look inside. What will he find there?
Look. Notice. Ask questions.
Picture 3: the violin man
Who is this old man? Why is he sitting in the shop, alone? Is he waiting for someone? Customers? Is no one coming? Why? Or maybe music has been outlawed, and he's waiting for soldiers to come and take the violins away ... Or he could be a wizard, infusing his violins with magic ... but why?
Look. Notice. Ask questions.
Sometimes I am afraid to ask "why". Usually this fear comes when I've already written the book, because I'm afraid if I dig deeper I'll have MORE EDITING TO DO AND NO UGH. As little editing as possible, please and thank you.
So, especially now that we're planning, DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK WHY. Why takes everything deeper, and it really makes you think.
Don't fear. Look around you. Notice what you see.
And ask lots of questions.
I hope you liked this post! I have an announcement to make soon. I'm not sure when I'll do it, but I already wrote the post up so I might put it up Wednesday, or Tuesday ...? We'll see. I'M SO EXCITED THOUGH AHHHH.
(No it does not start with "e" and rhyme with creditors, sadly, but IT'S STILL EXCITING)
How is Nano Prep going for you guys? Do you have all your characters figured out? Do you do any of the excercises I mentioned? Did the pictures give you any ideas? Please share with me!