Hello, friends. We’re back for our second week of Preptober, and this time we’re going to be focusing on character development. So, pull out your list of known character facts, but don’t put plot and world-building completely out of mind. The character arcs we establish this week will be effecting the plot, and the needs of our characters will greatly impact the world-building we do next week. Be sure to add to your list of known world-building facts as you go along.
Week Two Tasks:
October 10th – Make a list of all the characters you may need. You should have a decent idea from your outline of how many there will be. Depending on what “paths” you follow through your story tree in November, you might not need all of the characters you work on this week, but it’s better to be over-prepared than under.
October 11th – Divide your characters into three categories: POV characters (point-of-view characters. These’ll be your main characters), secondary characters (love interests, companions, anyone that is going to be re-occuring but we won’t experience their POV), and tertiary characters (characters that have only one or two scenes). Be careful not to overwhelm yourself when it comes to POV characters; these are the characters who will need the most development and prep. I know that my story will have five POV characters and a very limited number of secondary/tertiary characters.
October 12th – For each POV character, establish their character arcs: what do they want, what is their goal, what will they accomplish or fail at, where are they (emotionally) at the beginning of the novel, where will they be (emotionally) at the end of the novel, how do they change over the course of the novel?
October 13th – For each POV character, create a character profile. Here’s a basic version, or here is a more advance one. You can also create your own, or use other kinds of references. I’ll be using D&D character sheets as a starting point for all my main characters. Basically, you want to begin to get a good grasp of their personalities and individual voices. You want each of your POV characters to have a unique voice, so their chapters stand apart from one another.
October 14th – For any secondary characters, we’ll be making more character profiles, but more simple ones. Focus on their personality, relevant background information, what motivates them, what they have to gain and lose. It’s nice for them to even have minor arcs, but don’t fixate on them too much.
October 15th – For all the tertiary characters, you’ll want to establish motivations and personalities. You want all of your characters, even the very minor ones, to feel like real people. They have wants, needs, desires, fears. You don’t need to know every detail of their lives, but you need to have a firm grasp of why they are in the story from their perspective. You don’t want puppets that exist to move the story along and nothing else. Author VE Schwab is famous for her side characters being just as fascinating and fully rounded as her primary ones. Even characters that only have a single scene feel like they could become main characters at any time.
October 16th – Go back through your plot tree, and add in your character arcs. This might alter or all together eliminate some of the solutions you thought up before, or it might add new ones you hadn’t considered before. This is why I like the tree method; it is (pardon the pun) more organic.
LINKS ON CHARACTER:
8 Steps for Character Growth
Character Sheets and Character Creation by thatfrenchhelper
A Complete List of Archtypes
The Four Main Types of Epic Antagonists
How to Write People of Color If You’re White
Tips for Writing A Large Cast of Characters
Master List of Gestures and Body Language