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 (Continued!)

Note: It took me about a month to realize I wrote two blog posts with the same name and (pretty much) the same content. They even begin with the same sentence! So, I’m adding “continued” to this title because it came second, and I’m leaving them both up because they do say a few unique things. 🙂

I wrote a novel! It took me one year, three months, and twenty days, but that is honestly shorter than I really thought it would take. It ended up being just over 60,000 words, and, while it is not a grand work or anything, I’m really proud of it, and I hope to revise and publish someday.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to be that great of a writer, and even if you’re not sure how great it will be, I think you should write a novel, and here’s how you’re going to do it.

Step #1: Buy a sketchbook & grab a pencil.

My first step was to outline and map and plan out how the novel would go. I also drew pictures with my really bad artistic ability. Some things you should put in this sketchbook:

  1. Outline of the plot. (Including character intros and plot twists.)
  2. Map of the area. (Maybe with certain trails highlighted or character houses circled.)
  3. Character bios.
  4. Brainstorm and inspiration.

Depending on the genre of your novel, there will be more things to add to this list. If your genre is fantasy, you may want to write about the world(s) the characters are in and such. If your genre is mystery, you’ll want to line up everything to be sure the mystery is hard to figure out, but does not contradict itself.

For me, the sketchbook helps the visual side of me to plan things out. Others might find a simple notebook or even a computer or iPhone a better tool for them.

Step #2: Begin writing.

This is my most dreaded part. I do enjoy writing, but it’s hard to work up the drive to want to sit and write out a storyline for an hour.

Do whatever will make it easier for you. Start three chapters in. Write the last chapter first. Only write in ten-minute increments until you’ve reached your stride.

Be sure to create an environment that is condusive to writing. It should be quiet, but maybe some background noise like music or birds singing outside. It should be tidy so you can focus. You might get a drink of water so you don’t need to leave your post half-way through. “Whatever works for you” is the motto of writing.

Another thing to note: Some people say to write, write, write, and edit later. I tend to edit as I write, going back a couple paragraphs every time I come to it. Again, figure out what works best for you.

Step #3: Finish it.

There’s a huge gap between #2 and #3, as you can see. But if you work hard and don’t give up, you’ll eventually come to a stopping place. Now is the time to read through it yourself once, just to check that the plot structure is stable and everything makes sense in the end. Then you’ll get to the nex step.

Step #4: Edit it.

For this step, I would reccomend uploading it to a Google Doc and sharing with any of your friends who would like to read it, since this is exactly what I’m doing with my novel now. Whenever edits are made, remember to go back and edit the original document so that you don’t have to redo them.

One more tip: Read it out loud. Somehow your brain is able to pick up on way more mistakes when you read it out loud. Even if it’s just to yourself, I have no doubt you’ll find this incredibly helpful.

Step #5: Recruit first readers.

Now is a fun part. Print out a couple copies (yes, it may be expensive, depending on how large your novel is), put them in binders, and give them to people who you trust. As they read it, they can point out errors they find and compliment you on your storyline. Then, hopefully they’ll give the binders back, and you can send them out again to be read through.

Step #6: Actually finish it.

If everything has been done correctly, there should be minimal errors, and now would be the time to send it off to a publisher or self-publish it. But the sad thing is that novels are rarely ever really done. Even if it’s publised, grammar brats like me out there in the world will find mistakes and write letters or emails, and there will be more things to fix.

If I were cliché, I would say “but that’s the beautiful part of it,” but I’m not going to lie.

If you need advice or you would like to read my novel, email me using this contact form.

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!

 

 

 

 

The Birth of a Character

I like to write. And I like to write fiction. One of my favorite parts of writing is creating a new character. This post will explain how this process happens for me.

First Stage: A Plot is Formed

For me, a character is usually born of a plot. Some writers are introduced to a character in their imagination, then they proceed to tell the story of the character. Most of my characters, though, come when I create a plot and then want someone to be the star of the show. In other words, some people find an actor and then write a script for them, and others write a script and then find actors.

Second Stage: A Main Character Begins to Form

As I think about the plot, my imagination plays with characters. First, I decide how I want the main character to be. For my current and first novel, I really wanted the character to be a boy around my age, just cause that came to me first and it was easier. Then I decided I wanted a side teacher character, and I first went with a man. Then through some more thinking, I decided this teacher character would be a woman.

Third Stage: The Character is Named

Depending on what the character is supposed to be, I give them a name. For some characters, they need a name that doesn’t exist in our world, or a good explanation for why they have a name from our world. Other characters require a futuristic name, or an old name. For my main character in this novel, he was supposedly set into the future, so I gave him a name that sounded slightly futuristic (Gavryn). The side teacher character was named Elise at first, then was given the name Esiw, which is wise spelled backwards, reflecting her wise spirit.

Fourth Stage: The Character Finds a Personality

Next, you form the character’s personality. For me, this sprouts from one main idea, then blossoms into a whole set of characteristics. For example, I wanted Esiw to be a wise teacher (obviously). Soon she became a rich character with intricacies and authentic problems.  With Gavryn, I just wanted him to be somewhat like me. Then he became a very thoughtful young lad, with worries and fears and a mind for deep thought.

Fifth Stage: The Character is Written

First of all, you must keep them consistent. If you introduce a foolish character in the first chapter and then show them being the wise hero, you better have a good reason. I keep consistency by familiarizing myself with the character and remembering their ‘tagline’ so-to-speak.

Then you have to let the character be a person. With one side character in my novel, I was going to have her be a very distant, quiet mystic. But as she was written… she became a lot less quiet and a lot more like Anne of Green Gables. That’s just how it works. If characters don’t have a life of their own, they’ll just be dead characters.

So that’s how I create characters! I just thought I’d log this so that I could see it when I was older and more of a writer. I hope you enjoyed reading!

 

Announcing: I am officially a novelist.

I just wrote the 40,000th word on my book, The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert. I am super excited.

I should finish that novel in less than a month’s time. I shall ‘keep you posted.’

Writing Fiction

If you know me in “real life,” then you know that I’m writing a novel! But, if you only know me through this online platform, you wouldn’t know that yet. Let me take a moment to tell you about that.

About four-and-a-half months ago, under the encouragement of my writing professor, (I pronounced that in an English accent, but you can do whatever you want with it) I began writing a book. It took its inspiration (loosely) from the outside imaginary games that I would make up and play with my little siblings. That book is now 25,000 words and about halfway done.

It’s a novel about a boy named Gavryn Wickert who one day finds himself in another world. He meets a kind woman named Esiw who teaches him the magic of that world and leads him in giving back control to the council after many years of monarchy. There are story elements of loyalty, heroism, compassion, kindness, truth, and love. I call it “The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert.” 

Yes, it’s a sci-fi/mythical fantasy, but I think it would interest all people if they opened their mind up to the possibility of imaginary things.

This has been my second greatest writing endeavor, first being this blog, and so far it has been going great. I plan to finish the first draft by May 1st and have it fully edited and ready for its future by the end of Summer. (Of course, what are plans? This is a plan: a nice little imaginary story that we tell ourselves to keep us calm and ‘prepared’ for the future.)

This novel opens up a whole new world for me in writing fiction. And, while I don’t know where it will lead, I do hope to be published someday or have a successful self-publication.

If you would like to read The Fantastical Journey of Gavryn Wickert, or (TFJGW), just comment and I may send a link to the Google Doc. I have shared it with around thirty people so far and gotten great help in editing and plot things. I would love to have your input, too!