Friday, January 4, 2013

She's a Real Character!

Well, I have my premise to my novel. I know where it takes place and I have identified some of the characters. I was awake all night as the story played out in my head. It was as if I was watching a movie. If I can capture my "mind movie" with words, I will have a great novel. I realized last night though there are a lot of characters I haven't met yet. Remember my story in a sentence?

Here it is again:

Coffee barista and shop owner Sonja Parker is a single mom on her last leg financially and emotionally when Melissa, a college student comes to work at the Door County store and brings the message of God’s favor to Sonja.

So here are a few of my questions:

  • How did Sonja wind up as a single mom? 
  • Who is the father of her child? 
  • How old is her child and what else do I know about the little one? 
  • Where does Melissa go to college? 
  • Did Sonja go to college?
  • What about Sonja's parents? the grandparents?

I have a whole list like that. some of my questions were answered in my "mind movie" last night, but others are still out there haunting me. 

I don't know how other writers do it, but I am making a profile sheet for each of my characters. I want to know everything I can about them and as I learn more about them along the way, I will change the profile sheet or add to it.

I am creating a spreadsheet for my characters. I didn't start that way. First I started writing a paragraph about each character, but I quickly realized I was writing the story. I decided to use a form instead. I want to be able to locate info quickly. I thought about creating a resume for each character. I am including my characters' birthdays and ages. You don't ask for that info on a resume, but I figure if these characters want a job in my book, I expect full disclosure! In the end, all I needed was a simple spreadsheet. 

I found when I wrote my first novel, I needed a tool to manage my characters. I really don't like to read a book where the author gives the reader conflicting information. For example, I read a book where a couple was preparing to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary (25 years). The author described how they met at college. But if you looked at the story as a whole and did the math, the happily married couple would had to have gone to college at the age of twelve and married at fourteen or fifteen years of age! Inconsistencies like that drive me crazy! I certainly don't want to do that to my audience.

So if you are joining me in this venture; if you are starting your own novel, I encourage you to make sure you know your characters. I have completed what i already know about my characters. I will add more later and probably change some things along the way. Hey, I already changed Sonja's last name five times...and I am just at the beginning.

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