NaNo – a milestone and a character development tip

The last time I blogged about National Novel Writing Month I described how my writing had sloped off somewhat in the second week and how I was pretty behind in my word count. This weekend I’ve been trying to put that straight as much as I can, and last night I hit my first milestone: 10,000 words.

I am officially one fifth of the way there! That doesn’t actually sound that promising considering there is only 19 days of the month left, in which I have another 40,000 words to write, but the fact that I achieved my 10k mark on a night that I was finding writing difficult said something.

People are always talking about a lack of ideas or sense of character on the NaNo forums and Twitter feeds, but I have introduced a few new characters to my story in the last couple of days, so I thought I’d share a couple of ideas I use to help with their invention.

The first character I introduced was very minor. He was only appearing in the story for a small scene and wasn’t important to the overall narrative, though to make an impact I wanted my main character to get a good grip of what sort of person he was so that it would make a good descriptive passage for the sake of observation on the main character’s part. To do this I put myself in the mind of the main character and thought about what sort of person would carry out the acts that the new character just had.

The easiest way to think of what sort of person someone is, is to liken them to someone we already know. This could be someone we know in real life, a celebrity or another fictional character from anywhere at all. For this character in particular, whenever I thought of his appearance I began to think of Morgan Freeman, and so used some similarities in the character’s physical description.

Next up, a doctor entered the scene I was writing and I automatically considered the doctors I knew. The first one that entered my head (and God knows why) was Dr Hibbert from The Simpsons. And so I had my doctor.

Obviously when I do this I don’t copy everything about the person the character is based on. I think you should probably consider whether you are thinking about the person in terms of their appearance or personality, and then use aspects of that. Using both could result in a reader seeing too much of a resemblance, and then your character would lose their individual strength.

This method could be used for pretty much anything; characters, buildings, scenery, even the weather. All of our ideas are based on something we already know, so don’t stress about creating something brand new to gain an original idea, just make sure you present it in a new way.

Anyway, it’s back to NaNo for me, feel free to throw in some tips and comments of your own. Happy writing!


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