There have been quite a few posts about outlines lately. As the self-labeled queen of the to-do list, I’m quite clearly a fan of mapping things out.
When I was still on chemo and suffering the fuzzy brain that accompanied that treatment, I outlined my stories. I outlined them on huge sheets of butcher paper and tacked those up around my desk. Seriously, the outlining process had to go as quickly as lightning, or I would have forgotten what I was trying to get onto paper in that outline.
Now that I’m not afflicted with chemo fog (just normal “holy-smoke-I’m-really-busy-fog” haha), I’ve moved back to a method I haven’t used in a long time.
In lieu of outlining, I recommend character sketching. If you (unlike me) can ACTUALLY SKETCH, all the better! I like to get to know my main and supporting cast: back story, quirks, physicality, you name it. I often discover odd little layers to personal motivations for my characters.
What are some good ways to get a character sketch? When in doubt, come up with a crazy scenario and write a short story about it from the first person perspective of the character you’re fleshing out. Alternatively, do a journal type of entry about your own day, but as if your character had lived through it instead of you. I know we are not supposed to model characters after ourselves as authors, but if you have a particular interest or expertise that lends itself to enriching your character then I truly believe you should go with that! Your characters can share “common ground” with you, without being, well…you!
In the case of a huge cast of characters, do yourself a huge favor and get a hard copy of your character sketches. Keep them in a small binder that you have at hand while you are writing. You may need to go back and forth during specific scenes to make sure you’re covering their viewpoint. 🙂
Pretend each character is about to be either the protagonist or antagonist of an entire novel. Then, weave them into the pages of your story. By the time you’re done, it may feel like “their” story – as your characters shape it and move it in a new direction.
Happy Monday, and blessings to you all…