Writing my first novel – creating realistic characters

This year, my main goal was to add to my editing skills and become a developmental editor for self-publishers. After qualifying and gaining proofreading and editing skills I realised where my real interests lie – with fiction – helping writers to produce their best work.

Writing can be an isolating job, it’s easy to understand why they used to refer to the ‘lonely writer’ but that no longer has to be the case; in this digital age we never need to be lonely! There is such a supportive writing community out there and I’m happy to be a part of it. It has also shown me that there is scope for a more supportive, mentoring role for the modern editor and this is something that really interests me. This kind of helping role is perfect for me as I have been both a therapeutic counsellor and a librarian in the past.

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Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

I have also realised during this last couple of years training, that I like to write. I always dismissed it, mostly because of the dreaded imposter syndrome. I have always loved literature and didn’t think I could ever write anything, even nearly as good, as my favourite authors, so didn’t even try!

Lately, I’ve been learning so much about the craft of writing that it has filled me with new knowledge and has inspired me to give it a go! What better qualification for a developmental editor than to experience the writers’ world.

I really wanted to do an MA in Creative Writing, but when I asked if it was the best way to learn, all the editors I asked recommended reading widely about writing instead. I will eventually post a review of all the books about writing that I’ve read, but so far the most useful has been ‘Self-editing for Fiction Writers’. (I have no affiliation with Amazon but wanted to make sure you found the right copy.)

This week, I stumbled across the hashtag #NaNoWriMo on Twitter and fell down a rabbit hole! [In case you haven’t heard of it November is national novel writing month and there is a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month.]

Next thing I knew, I had signed up to write a novel in a month! Maybe I’m mad, but it seems like a good opportunity to give it a go. If I hate it or just suck at it, at least I’ll know and be able to just get on with editing. If you fancy joining me in this madness, sign up and buddy me (Aims*)

What to do first when you are planning to write a novel? Well, I’ve had the idea for a story for years; I haven’t much of a plot, just a concept really, but it’s a start. I think the first thing to tackle is the characters, at least the main character. Once the character is ‘alive’ in my head – I presume their story will kind of present itself to me! I’ll let you know in my next post!

Anyway, how do you create a character? I’ve never done it before but I decided the first thing I’d do was find a picture of my character (if you’re arty you could draw them or a techy person could create an avatar).

Another reason for doing this, is that I edited a book this week whose main character had ‘piercing blue eyes’ in one chapter and ‘deep brown eyes’ in a later chapter! It sounds so simple but you’d be amazed how many authors make this mistake. If I have the pictures in front of me while I write, I guess it’ll ensure consistency, if nothing else. Once I have the picture secure in my head I can get to know them better.

I’ve also created a character profile template which will help to build my character into a real well-rounded and realistically flawed person.

There are elements of myself in all my main characters – I figure that since I don’t have much time to plot or write – that writing about hobbies, interests, relationships and personality traits that I know, will be easier.

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you up to date about my progress. If you’d like to have a chat about my editorial services contact me here.

Download my character profile here for free.

Photo by Stokpic onPexels.com

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