Writing Tips 4

I’m deep into the plotting of my new series that I hope to write in the next year. And as I’ve been working through my plotting process in real time, I’ve been making notes to include in the book I hope to have out this fall and thought I’d compile a bit of it here on the blog for this week’s post.

Right now, I’m in the character development. When I plot, I have snippets of information that I flesh out into a solid idea, and then I discover who the story is about. And this all starts with a name.

I get a piece of paper and think of the type of people in my story and brainstorm the names those types of people would have, and I jot them down. After I’ve got a long list of first names, I use a name generator site to give me their last names. While I compile this list, I make sure no one has repeated initials or similar sounding names because that will confuse the reader. I know it’s happened to me. Nothing worse than having to flip back and forth in a book to figure out which M name did what and which L was dating who.

After I have this list, I imagine what they look like. This is usually aided by looking up which actor I think would play them in a movie. I don’t think of people by how tall they are or how long their hair is; I see a facial expression or how they walk. This is where Pinterest comes in, as I mentioned in a previous post. I create a Pinterest board with pictures of the celebrities I picked for each character, and I try to find them wearing something similar to the vibe I feel like my character gives off. And now I have something to reference or think about when writing a scene.

The next important thing I need when finding my characters is to know their habits (good and bad), their dreams (and what’s holding them back), who they trust and confide in (and who they can’t stand) and what they do with their hands during any of these situations. The more important the character is to the story, the deeper a profile I explore.

**Hot Tip** If you’re ever feeling stuck in a story, go back to your characters. Write out how they would act in a scenario not related to the plot or take a supporting character out for drinks and see what they might tell you about the main plot. Explore a day in their childhood or jump to the future and have them look back on what’s happening in the book and see what they feel about what happened. Put them in an unlikely situation and see what they do to get out of it. The answer to all of our problems lies in our characters.

An important thing to remember is to think about it like you’re discovering who your characters are. You’re not making them up. They’re already there and they just need an opportunity to come out and tell you about themselves.