Monday, November 11, 2013

Prewriting: Step 2 - Creating Characters

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?