Planning for NaNoWriMo 2015: Character Development (Part One)

Well, it’s that time of year again.  National Novel Writing Month is write right around the corner, so it’s time to prepare for a month of roller coasters, both emotionally related and plot related.

This year I’m doing another futuristic novel.  But it’s not another end-of-civilization premise.  My idea for this year is about mutant cyborgs who are kept in captivity and pitted against each other for sport.  It is illegal, so the entire thing is kept mostly quiet, though it is well-known that it is there.  Anyway, the business has made many people millionaires, since money is awarded to the owner of whichever cyborg wins each fight.  So this business, since it has made many people rich, is passed down to their kids.  People group their kids together and give them a certain amount of money to go buy a cyborg, and then they take their cyborg to a camp where they learn the basics of cyborg raising and fighting.

There is more to it, but this is the main idea.

This year I really want to focus on character development more than anything.  As of right now my plot is lacking quite a lot, but so far the whole thing depends on character development, so maybe the rest will fall in place as I go along.

I’ve always tended to focus on plots when it came to writing.  Characters didn’t seem as important as long as I had a good plot and they weren’t completely void of personality.

So here are my thoughts on creating a character.  I know I’ve had one or two posts on creating believable characters before, but this will be a little different.  I’m going to start from the beginning of my thought process.

First, I got a general idea of how many main characters I wanted.  I knew I wanted three to focus on, and then I decided two boys and one girl was be the way I wanted to go.

I knew I wanted my main-main character to a boy, but all I had was a vague feeling of his personality.  I knew I wanted him to be level-headed, and thoughtful, and not too out-spoken, but I wanted him to be able to voice his opinions that he believed were the most important.

I knew I wanted the girl to be a strong female character, with more to her than what she let on.  I knew I wanted her to be smart, but I also knew I had to be careful with how I crafted the three of these people together so people wouldn’t accuse me of copying Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the Harry Potter series.

The third character, the other male, I had the most vague picture of out of all of them.    I wanted him to be a little bit of a mystery, even more than the girl.  But honestly now that I think of it, I don’t know if that was just because he was a mystery to me at that time, too.

The last character, who’s is honestly just as important, if not even more so, as the other three, is the cyborg who’s supposed to change everything.  All I knew about her was that I wanted her to be different from the regular killing-machines that the people in this world were used to.

My next step was the first towards getting to really know my characters: Names.  Quickly I banged out three names, the first that popped in my head.  Trent, because I thought it was a cool name, Coleen, because I wanted a name not too well known and I liked the sleek feel it left after I spoke it, and Wesley.  I don’t know why I picked Wesley, and I’ll undoubtedly change it.

My cyborg character, however, I put a little more thought into it, because I didn’t really want to change it, and I wanted it to have some sort of significance.  At first I thought of Scarlett, so they could call her Scar for short, but since the main character of my last novel is named Scarless, I didn’t want to do that.  So I went online and looked up “famous female…” and I tried to think of something that would be fitting.  Nurses?  No.  Leaders?  Maybe.  Serial killers?  Why not?  So I looked up female serial killers and clicked the first link that popped up.  I scrolled down and read through all ten women’s stories.  Most of them were too common place, like Jane, Belle, and Amy.  Nope.  A couple were way too unusual, like Delphine (which also sounds a lot like my sister’s name), Dorothea, and Aileen.  But there was one that I liked and went with.  Lavinia.  So she became a Lavinia, at least for the time being.  The real Lavinia’s story was nothing significant to my story; she was a woman who ran a hotel with her husband and killed guests for their possessions.  So later I’ll have to ask myself if I want a name I’ve picked for it’s sound, or it’s hidden meanings.

Next, I had to get a feel for their looks.  I know a lot of people say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” but I say that the cover can give a good indication of what’s inside.  I don’t want to get into a discussion about this, all I’m saying is that if you see a person with flower crowns and pink frilly shirts, at the very least you have an idea of what they like to wear, right?

Trent, I knew I wanted him to be pretty clean, he’s a quieter guy, but also a leader who knows what he wants.  I made him short, with brown hair and grey eyes.  The size of him and the color of his hair would indicate his quieter side, maybe even hint at why he’s so quiet, and then the grey eyes would make him stand out just a bit.  I didn’t write this down, but I also imagine him with a pretty neat and standard outfit, collared (probably plaid) shirt, often tucked and buttoned, sometimes not, pressed pants and clean shoes.  I imagine his outfit getting a little more messy as the story develops.

For Colleen I knew I wanted a constantly neat, business-like look.  Pencil skirt, flower printed shirt, and maybe even some black heels.  At first I wanted to give her glossy brown hair, but as I developed her more I found I kept picturing her as asian.  So that changed to sleek black hair, and probably brown or black eyes.  To reenforce the business-woman look, I decided I wanted her hair in up-dos most of the time.  I also wanted her to wear a lot of makeup, and pretty.  This was important because of the back-ground I wanted to give her.

Wesley I had the least idea about, but I went ahead and gave him blonde hair and sea-green eyes.  Eventually I gave him scars, since I’d decided I wanted him to be the one who got close to the cyborg and the kinda guy who likes working with fierce things.

I would continue, but this post is getting a little long.  I will post part two very soon.

Off in search of Inspiration,
The Raven

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