Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Character Sketches Make It Easier To Make Sketchy Characters

One of the things I'm really enjoying about working on background material for the novel I want to write is the character sketches. You would think this would be a tedious activity, but I'm finding it fascinating. So much so I wanted to share.

So what's so great about character sketches? It gives me ideas.

Okay, so as a writer ideas aren't that hard to come by. That I'll admit. But useful ideas can sometimes be harder to wring out of my brain. A novel is a big thing to write and it requires interesting material to keep the reader's eyes glued to the page.

That's where the character sketches come in. By filling out all the fields in each one I'm finding myself crafting much more complex, interesting characters. The template I have in Scrivener requires me to give each character a physical description, a job, a role in the story, personality, habits and mannerisms, and most importantly, external and internal conflicts.

It's those last two options that are helping me the most. By understanding how each character is in conflict with themselves and the others around them I'm finding the plot of my novel. Events happen not for a random reason but because the characters I create put things into motion for their own reasons. With each new character I'm finding another thread I can weave into my novel.

Now how much of each character will end up on the page has yet to be seen. As with all the background material I'm working on the reader is likely to only see the tip of iceberg so to speak. But the important part is that I know it's there. I don't have to have every tiny detail mapped out before I start writing, but effort right now will save me a lot of mental lifting when it comes time to write my first draft.

Hopefully I won't have to spend too much more time on background material. It's been a bit slow going with some of the other projects I've been working on the last few weeks. I want to finish this material sometime this week so I can get working on plotting out my novel this weekend. Even if I'm not done I think I'll spend this weekend plotting, as I do have a good base of material to work with.

Either way, this novel is getting written, and the character sketches I've come up with will help me make it the best it can be.

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