Tag Archives: character sketch

novel/alien/attention to detail

today was my last day of school for the year, and I am preparing myself for the re-emergence of my novel. I am looking at three months of full-time writing, and I could cry from happiness.

The timing is…good.

I am coming back around to writing what I love first, and applying technique later (the Write Out Loud thing). So for the last few weeks I have been feeling my novel shyly emerging from the husk of Draft Zero. It’s a different beast – more complex and compelling and with much more at stake.

It’s a bit like an alien bursting out of the belly – mine or the manuscript’s…not quite sure.

I’m not a big one for writing up character sheets and interviews and biographies, or doing the same for plots and worlds. I tend to create as I write, from the back of my brain. But with this emerging second-life/alien-baby novel, the time is ripe.

I have begun to write my first ever truly comprehensive character sketches, and I’m loving it. I love the freedom to ramble however I like, I love the ridiculous, gorgeous lengths I can push them to without fear of retribution, and most of all I love the world of details that are emerging.

I don’t think this work always has to be done first. For me, these characters didn’t exist until I had met them through the first draft. But I am discovering the real joy and benefit of doing character work.

And lastly, Donald Maass has written a beautiful post about the importance of detail.

in the name of research

It recently came to my attention that I don’t have a good enough mental image of the hero I’m currently writing to describe him with any conviction. All I really know is that he is huge (muscles, not fat, of course), generally golden in colour scheme and with very short hair. This man doesn’t need to hide his face, which doesn’t mean said face exactly invites you in.

So I decided to find an image and work from that. Turns out that it’s nigh on impossible to get anything sensible out of google images when you type in things like “beautiful man”.

When I poured out my problems into special k’s ever-ready ear, he said “Well, what does he look like?”

“He’s a big, buff, Scottish dude.”

And here’s to my husband: he typed that straight into google.