Friday, June 13, 2008

A Breakthrough: Character

How many writers begin with an event, the primary plot of the story? How many start with the setting? I have to say that I've done both. In my first YA, there was vague idea of plot floating around, but it really started with a place. My second YA was sparked with a curious historical event that took me to amazing places. As I begin my third novel, I am starting from a whole new place--Character. Yes, character was important in my first two books, but perhaps I should have spent a little more time with them before kicking them out the door. As I await the ax on those two, it's certainly something to consider for revisions.

And now, for YA #3. I begin with character, and with a twist: this is my first stab at a first person narrator, but the story is not about her. It's about someone she's watching, inescapably drawn to her, flitting in and out of her world (literally). A little like Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. Since her voice is telling the story, I really need to get under her skin and walk around in it for a while. Oh, and one more kicker--she is a real person, not just a fictional character. No pressure there, huh?! Her role in history was rather limited, so that will give me a little room, but the character she is watching has a significant historical presence. OOOO {squeal!} this should be fun!

Now...I hope my family are bracing themselves for a wacko mom, running around the house, muttering to herself. (well, I guess that's nothing new!). This time, I really want to flesh out these characters before I even start writing. So back to my English teacher, lists, sketches. Anything to "get" these gals in my brain...

And in my heart.


  1. LOL! Love the part about the family watching their "muttering mom!":0)

    That's one thing I love about writing! It gives us a license to be a little insane! ;0)

    Good luck with your next novel! Sounds like fun!

    (via way of verlakay)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Christy! Yeah, that's one thing I love about being a writer...that license to be a little crazy!

  3. What would I do without writing? I blame it for everything crazy in my life. Muttering, crying for no reason, squeee's of joy out of nowhere ...

    On my current WIP, I started with a situation that interested me, then moved to setting (my first time using a real location) and had to sit around for two months for my characters to show up. It drove me crazy!! (See previous paragraph)

    You're idea sounds very interesting! And cool. Have fun!!

  4. Oooohh, you've pricked my curiosity. Is it a person from the Women's Suffrage Movement? I love historical fiction. I think it takes time to grow into a character. In a sense, writing about a character is a lot like acting. Anyhow, have fun with her!

  5. My first "novel" which hasn't been edited yet and will probably not be for a while - started with a vision of a house. Originally I wrote it as an adult story with my main character being a 40yo artist and then rewrote it with her being a teenager. The vision I had was the house on a hill - creepy - but it had to do with a past life - the main character coming back to the house in the present time figuring out what happened to her in the past - but that didn't really pan out. So as my young adult novel, my main character actually does a bit of time travel and sees the past in a magic mirror she finds in the attic of the house - almost slipped up and gave away the story - lol -

    Sometimes it's a character that bugs us, sometimes a setting or sometimes the plot or idea that you can't quite grasp and have to do it 100 different ways to get the right combination. All ways seem to work out for individual authors. It's just a matter of experimenting and being open to whatever comes to you.

    I too am curious who this character is you are going to get to know before you start writing the novel. Good luck - E :)

  6. I remember when your character took over, Linda! LOL. I'm ready for that...bring it on MC!

    Stella, I'm so glad I got your curiosity up! She's a spikey little thing who started another movement...though she partied with the suffragettes, too, and the abolitionists.

    E, your story sounds cool! Definitely, with my last YA, the event just wouldn't leave me alone, and it spawned so many fabulous plot elements. I usually had to go for a walk after writing, just to settle down!

    Let's hope I get that same fever.

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  8. *squeal of delight*

    Go, Ghost Girl, Go! Can't wait to read the book.


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