With the book that’s held my attention for the last several years complete, and in the hands of an editor (and soon to be published, late spring 2021), I now have the time to focus on a new story idea that’s been brewing in the back of my mind.
I believed utilizing what I learned from my first book to begin my second book would make story-writing easier. But it didn’t. Somehow, I felt overwhelmed with what I already knew and what I had newly learned. Suddenly I wasn’t sure how to funnel something witty and intelligent onto the page.
It all began when one of my wise critique-group members explained that although she liked my writing, she did not necessarily care for my new main character (MC). This was shocking because although my MC is a sixteen-year-old girl in the story, in my heart, she’s a baby character.
This story is just beginning. Give her a chance!
After I swallowed the reality that my critique partner’s opinion was the very reason I joined a critique group to begin with, I settled down. I want my new book to be the best it can be. So, I need my characters to be the best they can be.
I needed to slow down.
Perhaps I had not made the first draft of my character as solid as I intended. And that’s okay. This is what writing is all about. I must remember that I am back to the beginning stages of creating something brand new. There is plenty of opportunity for my MC to grow. And there are many resources to help me do just that.
Although my new character made sense to me, I hadn’t yet impressed who she truly is onto the page. Thus, my critique partner couldn’t connect the way I had hoped. Therefore, I returned to the writing books that helped me with book one. As well, I have sought out new resources to help me along the way. These resources (listed further down) have become my brand new step one in characterization. It’s time for a little research!
I believe other writers might be in this kerfuffle as well. As this blog is my journey as a writer, it is the perfect place to climb the steps toward character creation together. Prepare to join me on this new trek in character development from the beginning to the end. It won’t all happen today, in one Sunday Post, but I can give you my new first step! The others will follow in future posts.
Step #1: Re-Research
I am calling this step Re-Research because I am literally going back to where I began in my first book. Although I have already researched characterization and read many articles about creating characters in the past. I am only human, and humans forget things. With this fresh new book idea, it doesn’t hurt to go back and regroup.
It’s difficult to compare my characters from book one to my new characters in book two. I have been with my older characters a lot longer. The transition from their flattened names on a page to three dimensional characters sitting at my dinner table took time. Today, I could offer them their favorite meals and beverages, and we could laugh and cry over all kinds of topics—because I know them.
I don’t know my new characters yet—I only know who I hope they might be, or hope they might become.
Sometimes my characters surprise me. I think I know how they might behave, but when I put them into various situations; they act completely different. This tends to happen less with my more nurtured characters, the ones I’ve known longer. But, it’s something to remember when I’m writing my MC into her new scenes.
Just as a newborn baby will grow into his or her traits over years of nurture and nature, I need to allow some development time for my new story characters. It’s also important to remember that every baby is different. The route I traveled to create a character from my first book might not work for a character in my second or third or fourth book. The point is, going back to the basics with a fresh outlook is exactly what my new MC needs.
Below are some of the resources I am using for this process (with new ones surely to come):
BOOKS on Writing:
Creating Character Arcs, by K.M. Weiland
The Emotional Craft of Fiction, by Donald Maass
The Writer’s Portable Mentor (Second Edition), by Priscilla Long
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody
WEBSITES on Writing:
Keep an eye out for future STEPS in my Step Driven Action to Creating Characters series. This will eventually become a series I can reflect back on with all my future writing. I can’t wait for you to join me!
(Side Note, step 2 is now posted here: https://stepsinbetween.com/2020/06/14/my-step-driven-action-to-creating-characters-step-2/)
Happy Writing (because at least you’re writing),
Celaine Charles, May 17, 2020
Image and Content Credit:
https://canva.com (title photo taken with Celaine Charles’ iPhone, created on Canva)
https://www.carlasonheim.com/online-classes/painting-figures-with-anne/ (Artist Anne Marie Grgich)
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