Creating a Main Character for Your Novel

As a writer and weaver of stories, one of my favorite things to do is create characters. I love writing characters more than writing their dialogue, explaining a world, or even creating a plot. Building a character makes you feel like you’re making a whole new person. Often, when you’ve finished, it’s hard to believe the character doesn’t exist in real life because it becomes so real in your head.

Here is my process for creating a main character.

Decide on Some Basic Things

First off, you’ll need to decide some basic things. Most likely, you already have these things figured out. Is the character a boy or a girl? Are they tall or short? What does he or she look like?

Give Them a Name

Naming is sometimes fun and sometimes really hard. When someone is born in real life, their name has a chance to shape them, and they have a chance to shape the perspective of others on their name. But in fiction, you have to be careful with the preconceptions you instill with the name. Does the name sound bratty? Does it sound too hipster? Will it make people think the character is dumb?

Personally, I feel that it’s usually best to go with a less common name so that people probably haven’t met someone with that name before. For my last novel, I used the name Gavryn, which is actually completely unheard of. I love that name because I was able to shape it to mean whatever I wanted to, instead of starting off with ideas for someone with that name. For my current novel, my character’s names are Elisa and Clairen. Clairen is fairly rare, whereas Elisa is an older name.

The important thing is that you choose a name you can shape throughout the story.

Build Their Personality

Now is the most complex part. You want to create someone with an intricate and consistent personality. Will they be an extrovert or an introvert? Will they be nice or mean? Will they be sharp or dull?

All of this is up to you, but unless you aim to confuse your reader, the golden rule must be consistency. All things said and done by the character must conform to what he or she is supposed to generally be like. All twists from this general idea must be accounted for and explained somehow.

Predetermine Their Character Arc

Lastly, you must decide what the character’s story within your story will be. Will they have a rebellious time but come back to the light? Will they stay loyal to their friend? Will they learn what true character means? Will they go head-to-head with the pope in Vatican City?!

It’s all up to you. Now, stop surfing the web and get to writing your story!

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An Update on My Novel

I am publishing a novel. It’s called The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert, and it’s about a boy who finds himself in another world and must take part in a battle against a cruel Queen’s dictatorship. As adventurous as that sounds, it’s really more about his internal battle and the relationships he builds. I finished it at 2:02 AM on March 2nd, and after giving it a break from my thoughts, I’ve found I want to return to it. So, a couple weeks ago, I ordered an editing/proofing copy for myself and began the work of turning it into a polished second draft! I’ve decided I’m going to change a lot about the first few chapters, and the last half of the book or so is rife with typical typos, but I enjoy it.

Once I have finished editing everything I want to myself, I’ll add page numbers (didn’t realize those weren’t automatic), a copyright page (also something that isn’t automatic), and make the cover something more appealing. After this, the writing process will be in phase three as I order five or six updated copies for trusted grammarians and friends to proof and comment on. If everything goes well and there aren’t huge things to fix, I’ll be publishing for regular sale in August!

For those of you who are curious, I am publishing through CreateSpace, an Amazon self-publishing website. It’s surprisingly inexpensive and easy, so if you’ve written a book, I heartily recommend you use their services, and I’m not making any money telling you this.

Here’s a sneak peak on the cover.

THE COVER

Quick poll!

How to Write Your First Novel

I wrote a novel. This is how you can too! (Okay, actually, I wrote 76/77 of a novel, and I’m going to finish it soon, but we’ll just focus on the starting today. Finishing can be talked about later.)

Oh, and, a disclaimer: this is how to write a novel, according to today Levi. Your writing process or the writing process that works for me in the future may be different.

1. Think.

I’m sure if you’re considering writing a novel, you’ve probably done this already, but I’m including this even though it’s obvious. Think about what the plot will be. Ask yourself if you’ll actually want to keep going with it for three months (or three years). Then you’re ready to…

2. Plan it out.

So, I go to Walmart and get one of those $5 sketchbooks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really that artsy, I just don’t get notebooks with lines because I never stay in the lines anyway. Once you have your notebook of choice, you should:

  1. Outline the plot. Use a few pages to do this so you have space for a fair amount of details.
  2. Draw a map of the place your novel is set in. (Especially if it’s another world.)
  3. Meet your characters. This may sound weird, and I personally look at authors who talk about meeting their characters with a judgemental raised eyebrow, but this is a crucial step (I’ve always wanted to call something a crucial step) and if you miss it, your characters will be shallow. You need to write down every detail about every person that ever enters the scene and understand why they do what they do. People are complex, your characters should be too. I’ll probably give some tips on creating characters in a future blog post.
  4. EDIT. Your plan is not set in stone, it is a constantly shifting idear that must bend to fit your goals and your characters. Your whole ending could change halfway through the book because you realize your main character would never _____ and therefore the ending is implausible. Be flexible.
  5. Talk through your plot with friends and family. They’ll tell you if it’s stupid.

3. Write.

Now to the most dauntingly scary, horrendously difficult thing you could ever do: typing on a keyboard. Just kidding, writing is fun if you let it be and if you get yourself in a good zone. Here’s a nice quote about creativity!

Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity. – T.S. Eliot

Okay… I mean… It’s an okay quote I guess. I thought Google would have better options. Next time.

Anyhow, keep experimenting with what kind of writing environment helps you. Try different music, different location, et cetera. Personally, I like to write in my room while listening to Lindsey Stirling or classical music and drinking a Monster energy drink. (Not that I need the energy or the side effects, but that TASTE. It is bottled dragon mist.)

…And just keep writing and writing and editing and editing (more posts to come about this) until it’s beautiful.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

My Reading Life

About a week ago, I listened to a podcast from the Read Aloud Revival featuring Anne Bogel of ModernMrsDarcy.com (here’s the podcast I listened to). It inspired me a lot.

Anne Bogel is a super reader. She reads like three to four books every week (and not just little romance novels… no offense to romance). She reads classics and sci-fi and fantasy and nonfiction and just… a lot of books. Listening to her interview on the Read Aloud Revival really inspired me to read more.

So, I gathered up all the books I wanted to read (The Hobbit, the Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Quest for Truth series, Jane Austen’s novels, Heidi, and several others) and put them in order on my “to-read shelf.”

After hearing that Anne Bogel often read five books at once, I decided I should do that too (only with three, though). I listed all the books I wanted to read with little deadlines beside them (one being September 1st-wow!). So, now, I finished one book and am reading Tangle by Brock Eastman, Emma by Jane Austen, and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

I have really enjoyed reading more often! My writing is suffering a little bit, but if I can learn to cut out less-worthwhile things like TV, then I can keep reading and writing both at strong levels.

My goal of reading is taking sprout, and I’m getting back into my much-loved old habits of reading.

What are you reading?