Publishing a NaNoWriMo Book: Fleshing Out the Characters

October 7, 2015

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She lay there, a formless mass of bones, muscles, and blood, not yet a real Character. It was his job, as a Writer, to flesh her out. Adding some flesh to cover up the gore would be a good start.

It can be tricky business making the Figments from your imagination into real, flesh-and-blood Characters. There are a lot of ways to go about it, too. I recommend picking one to keep your Characters straight unless you want  to end up with  Tweedledee-Tweedledum confusion.

Pantsing It– Completely

If you think your memory is good enough, just put your Character out there and wing it. No notes. No planning. Don’t blame me if she turns out like Chris in Veneri Verbum and never quite solidifies into a solid Character. Also don’t blame me if she’s homicidal. It’s a lot of stress when you don’t have an Id.

Pantsing It– With Style

If you want to pants it, I recommend making notes. Use notecards, Scrivener, sticky notes, or tattoos, but make notes of every important feature about your Characters.  If he has brown hair in chapter one and red hair in chapter three, a Reader will eventually notice.  Don’t forget to add character traits.

Plotting It

You’ll have to pick your own method. Some people spend more time creating their Characters than I spend writing books. Others, including yours truly, borrow from the gaming world and create a Character sheet with the basics. I’ve even rolled a Character before.

However you decide to do it, be willing to alter your pre-planning, because something you planned won’t work out for that particular Character. As Christopher discovered:

“Didn’t I describe you as slender, too?” He was pretty sure she wasn’t a size two. Maybe a size ten.

“You described me as curvy and sexy,” she grumbled… “There’s nothing wrong with a size ten or any other size.”

… “Did I make you a feminist? I don’t think I’d be very comfortable writing a feminist.”

Your Character will inevitably develop some traits you didn’t plan. Run with it. This is what makes them real.

You only have homework this time if you want to plot your characters. If you do, you have a lot of homework. Get to it.

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