Welcome to another Friday! Casey here.
Last week, I shared the first thing I do when I start a new book – create the initial premise.That is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more!
As I’ve mentioned a few times in the past, I’m a plotter and, in most cases, I spend more time mapping the story then writing it. I do this for numerous reasons (which is a whole other blog post!). One reason is so I have a document that outlines all the basic facts. I call it my pre-work document.
After I jot down the initial premise, the next step is to identify the major characters. Notice I said, identify, not psycho-analyze, speed date, or get too far into their heads or physical appearances. At this stage, I want only the most basic information that is integral to the story.
That’s it. Later in the process, I’ll delve deeper and add more detail, but not right now. For the moment, I just want to know the very basics. Sometimes, I don’t even have names for all the characters.
This is from The Undead Space Initiative:
- Cherry – Vampire, stripper, protagonist
- Ian McDevitt, love interest
- Captain Trent O’Connor – another potential love interest
- Jay (Jayakrishna) – best friend and Thrall (human servant).
- Antagonist – Thalia – new Queen of the vampires
The next step is to create a basic sketch of the main characters. In this case, Cherry was the heroine of the story so I focused on her. I only included the most important details of the character for where she is at the time the story starts. Think of it as the launching point for Cherry.
Basic Character Sketch: Cherry is a vampire and a highly valued stripper at Fang Bang. Her Sire, Jonathan Gilbert, also prizes her for her pure bloodline (Blue Blood). Cherry would have continued to be an entertainer if she hadn’t been considered a conspirator in the murder of the vampire Queen. Her only choice now: run or die (again).
Try to keep the character sketch simple and uncluttered. The details will come later. At the time, this is how I pictured Cherry’s situation in my head.
And that’s all I use at this point in the process. I’ve found going through this exercise in an exact order, keeps me organized and focused. Then I don’t get lost in the weeds early in the plotting process. Plus, it gives me a tangible series of steps to complete while mentally preparing me for the moment I start actually writing the story.
Again, this is only the initial stab at character development and is intended to be a brief first impression only. Once you have characters identified and an idea of the what the story is about, the next step is to map the plot (also at a high level).
I imagine, right about now, that if you’re a pantser, you’re shrieking in horror. Believe it or not, once I finish the “process” I basically let the characters and situations determine the flow of the story. So there’s plenty of room for fun and discovery!
One final note – this should not take hours or days. If it is, you’re thinking too deeply. Remember: shallow, superficial. The rest of the details will come out, I promise.
Questions? Concerns? Alternate methods? Feel free to comment.