Blogs by David A. Schwinghammer
8/12/2009 8:51:45 AM
How to create characters for your novel and make them come to life.
All you really need to get started with your novel is a small idea. My latest one involved a Greek God who was bored and wanted to mess with the Earthlings, circa 2009. Your toughest job is to come up with compelling characters. Robert Ray, author of THE WEEKEND NOVELIST, recommends four of them: your hero, his/her love interest, an antagonist, and a sidekick for your hero. Of course there will be other minor characters, some of them almost major, but you should always do a little sketch unless they’re meant to be flat.
You should create a timeline for each of them, then write a character sketch, which will sometimes (but not always) fit in the novel itself. Here is Arnie Vogel’s from STRANGERS ARE FROM ZEUS.
1973: born in East Embarrass on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota.
1979: Falls through the ice on Birch Lake while ice fishing with his father, who saves him just as he’s about to give up.
1985: Arnie and his best friend Bernadine get lost in Superior National Forest. They’re lost for three days. They get to know each other and depend on each other like brother and sister.
1988: Arnie flunks Trig. Because of this his father, a frustrated mechanical engineer who wound up working at the paper mill, won’t pay for his college.
1989: Bernie turns down Arnie’s marriage proposal. Her father was abusive toward her mother and she doesn’t want that to happen to her.
1991: Arnie leaves to work on the Iron boats on the Great Lakes.
1991-2003: Arnie travels throughout Europe and the Far East, sometimes working as a merchant marine.
2003: His grandmother dies, leaving him her newspaper. He returns for the reading of her will, intending to sell the newspaper and hit the road again but there's a surprise in store for him.
A character sketch is next. You list your character’s physical and psychological characteristics, his strengths and faults, then you write a sketch that starts as a narrative and ends as a scene. This will help you get to know your character. This is a must or your novel will seem paper thin.
Dave Schwinghammer’s published novel, SOLDIER’S GAP, is available at a discount on Amazon.com. Used copies available.
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