Since I’ll be spending so much of November working on my NaNoWriMo project, I thought I’d show you a bit of my prewriting process. This is what I did during October. This post is about creating characters.
Before I write, I have to have the idea of where the story is going. And to do that, I have to know who my characters are. My stories are always focused on the characters, especially their journeys, since I write YA.
This story is about Rowell, the son of my two main characters from the Red WIP. He called out to me in the previous story I wrote. I’ve loved getting to know him, and it’s almost surreal writing Larzo and Aydra as parents. They’ve all grown up and changed, though I guess that’s to be expected.
While I do know most of the characters in the beginning of the story – Rowell’s family and friends – once he starts his own journey, he meets new people and makes new friends.
There are some secondary characters who have a very large influence over Rowell, and to correctly portray them in the story, I need to know where they come from. What’s their motivation? And also, I need to know what they look like. I can’t keep track of that stuff in my head. Mostly because I can’t visualize it at all.
So I create character sheets.
Here’s an example of one of my characters in the early stages.
She’s much more fleshed out now, but that’s what I began with. I’m no artist, and I can’t draw people at all, but at least now I can see a little bit of what Eni looks like. I make sure I have hair color and eye color at least. Since she’s one of the main characters, she has a full sheet. Some of the secondary characters, like Rowell’s sisters, have to share a sheet.
Here’s the antagonist. His name is Tadrol and at first, I couldn’t figure out what motivated him. What was it that made him do the terrible things he did? I tend to write until I figure it out, exploring what kind of character he is. If I hadn’t set the time constraint (finishing by November,) I probably would have written out character sketches. But at least now I know how to write him realistically.
How do you create your characters? What do you start with? Appearance or background?