Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How I became a plotter: Characters (part 2)

As promised, HERE is the character sheet to end all character sheets.

So maybe that's a teensy exaggeration, but it is helpful. I created it to help establish ways that my MC could drive the plot while I was still in the novel idea stage. It is not full of things like height and eye color. Instead, it has questions about weaknesses, strengths, and backstory. Check it out and feel free to download.*

In addition to this, I'd like to touch on a couple things extra things in regards to plotting character:

1. Villians.
Give your villain a backstory. In my research, numerous articles and blog posts state that villains should not exist merely to stop/challenge your MC. If you take your MC out of the story, your villain should be able to fill his role. He must have strengths and weaknesses. He must have motivations that make sense. So while you are happily filling out character sheets (I've provided some more of my favorites below) fill one out for your villain as well.

2. Character Drives Plot.
Yes, I know I already harped on this last time but I found a fantastic article about this writing tip that you absolutely must read. It not only talks about how and why to make sure your MC drives the plot, but it gives a Plotter-in-Training a wonderful outline for how and WHEN to do this in a novel!

Here's my quick and dirty summary:

Act 1: MC's flaw.
Showcase your MC's major weakness in an early scene through his/her reaction to a situation.
Act 2 (early): Moral Opposite.
If your MC is logical, have him/her meet someone highly emotional. This will challenge your MC and force change.
Act 2 (middle): Training.
Have your MC start encountering situations where his weaknesses are challenged so he can start growing or 'training' for a new strength.
Act 2 (end): Fail.
Create a situation where the MC must choose to either stick with his newly learned strengths or fall back on his old weakness. Have him backslide into his old weakness.
Act 3: Final Choice.
This is the big scene when the stakes are high and your character must perform or all is lost. If you are writing a 'comedy' your character will stick to his new strengths and prevail.

Here is the article with the invaluable details for this glorious outline.

And here are links to a few of my favorite (and detailed) character sheets:
Character Traits on deviantArt
Categorized Characteristics
Character Interview
Perceptions of your Character

Next Time: Plotting out plot.
Previous Post: Characters (part 1)

*If you share, credit back to me? Thanks! *hugs*

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