Posts Tagged Nicola Morgan

How Do You Create Your Characters?

How do you make the people in your fiction (longer fiction especially) well-rounded, believable individuals that the reader might care about?

In short stories it isn’t always necessary to know all the details about a character, for example it may be enough to know that the heroine is a grandmother and not her exact age or her previous profession (if any). But when attempting to write something longer, facts like these become important so that the writer can concoct a suitable back story for the lady, so it may be useful to know in what decade she was a teenager, at what age she left full-time education and whether or not she became a working mother. The life which the grandmother lived before the novel opens will have a bearing on how she acts and reacts within the story – so both the author and the reader need to know what went before.

Some writers advocate filling in a questionnaire about each character, covering physical appearance, hobbies, education etc (a sample questionnaire can be found on Stewart Ferris’ website here). This is a useful way of keeping track of facts such as eye colour and height (easy things to forget as you get deeper into the plot). 

However, I find it very hard to just jot down a sentence or two about the big things such as a character’s personality, attitude to life and motivation.  In order to get know a protagonist I have to start writing scenes from his or her point of view. It’s only as I write that I realise what I don’t know about a character and therefore what I need to put into their back story to make them act in a certain way in the present. This means I don’t do much planning before I write because I have to write in order to create the characters.

Some writers cut pictures from magazines and use these as prompts for their characters. But this only covers their physical appearance – so I’m not sure it would help me.

Nicola Morgan advocates interviewing your main character (her list of suggested questions is here and they are pretty searching!) Most of these I couldn’t have answered when I initially decided on the people I needed in my story but now I’ve written a bit from each point of view I’m going to pretend I’m a chat show host and start asking questions.

What about you – how do you develop your characters?

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Kindle Talk

I’ve finally got round to buying a cover for the Kindle I received at Christmas. It’s a bright pink neoprene zip-up sleeve.Kindle and Neoprene Sleeve I wanted to use the Kindle for a while before deciding whether to go for the book-like cover or the sleeve – but I couldn’t start on the e-books until I’d finished the ‘proper’ book I was already part way through (Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult – not as good as some of her others, I thought).

Before I started using the Kindle I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t feel like a book and I wouldn’t be able to get engrossed in the story. But it was no problem, the page turning becomes automatic and the fact that it’s an electronic device doesn’t reduce the enjoyment. A colleague at work said he was so involved in what he was reading that he totally forgot it wasn’t a book and reached his hand over to turn the page manually.   

The only thing I find frustrating is the choice of font sizes. I was hoping to find one that would let me read without wearing my glasses but my ideal size seems to fall in the middle of two choices – so I still put the specs on.

So far I’ve worked my way electronically through A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, How to Make £10 in 10 Minutes by Linda Lewis and I’ve just started Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (am I the only person never to have seen the film or read the book?).

Now, I’m wondering about downloading Write a Great Synopsis by Nicola Morgan. I think I’m going to need it to stand any chance of getting an entry ready for the Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition – it’s not going too well at the moment! Is anybody else struggling?

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