Novel Writing: Creating a Cast of Characters

Filed in Ask the Editor, Author Inspirations by on November 18, 2013 4 Comments

Hello authors!

Cast of CharactersHopefully you’re each waist-deep in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing) Month, and just past the halfway mark in your first draft of your novel. If you haven’t started, or have fallen off the wagon just a bit, jump back on! The only thing standing between you and a finished novel is your hesitation—and you, sweet writer, have nothing to lose!

As you pound away at your 1,667 words per day, start thinking about characterization. That may sound like a complicated term to some, but it’s simply the process of creating characters in your story. Give them depth, quirks and their own unique imprint in the storyline. There’s a few key ways which you can create characters with distinct personalities and nuances.

So what IS characterization?

  • Motivation- what motivates them? What makes them tick?
  • Experience- how do their experiences shape their viewpoints and reactions?
  • Self-image- what is in their mirror? How do they see themselves within the unfolding of the plotline?
  • SPEECH PATTERNS- what is their voice? How do they speak? Curtly, or in rich, long, languid sentences? Is their vocabulary indicative of a certain region or country?

Create character profiles. Does your character resemble someone you’ve watched in a movie, or someone you know in real life? Print out a picture of that person. Begin jotting adjectives around the sides of the page: impatient, fast-talker, warm, bubbly, touchy-feely, distant and aloof. Jot down pieces of their story, background, habits and mannerisms. All of these details don’t have to make their way into the story; pick those that are important and weave them in. At the end of the writing process, sort through conversations and interactions. Are your depictions of each character consistent throughout your story with the character’s profile?

One last tip: characterization through dialogue cannot be overly emphasized. If the dialogue is saturated with enough personality that I can tell which character is speaking without seeing them named, it’s a job well done.

What are you waiting for? Get to typing! We can’t wait to see the finished product.

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About the Author ()

Brittnee Newman, Marketing & Communications Strategist for Xulon Press, has been a blogger, freelance journalist and editor for just over half a decade. She joined Xulon Press as an editor in 2012, and now supports the company within the Marketing Department. Follow her on Twitter at @XulonBrittnee.

Comments (4)

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  1. avatar Rolanda Chaney says:

    This is a great ideal. What a way to see things through a picture. I may have to jump in this…

  2. avatar Barbara L. Vanderstel says:

    How did you know I’ve been feeling stuck? This helped me a lot, now I just have to get at it. Thanks Brittnee. i want to do a much better book than the last one. The tips are helping me, however I have been feeling a little overwhelmed. God Bless the staff at Xulon. Barbara L. Vanderstel

    • So glad to hear that it helped, Barbara! That feeling can actually be a good thing as a writer; it means you’re ready to grow, improve, stretch, and learn!

      Are there any other topics that have been challenging you? I’d be more than happy to point you to additional, pertinent blog posts, or perhaps our editorial staff can create an article to address your concerns.

      Writing is a personal challenge, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Our goal is to continually create new pieces which keep you inspired and instructed!

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