Prep-tober Week Three: Craft Strong Characters

How is your NaNoWriMo prep going? Last Sunday, I released a blog post focusing on helping writers figure out their story idea, genre, point-of-view, and tense. In case you missed it, you can find it here. Today, I'm discussing my favorite feature of novel planning: Crafting Strong Characters. 

Characters are at the heart of any novel. You want your characters to be relatable and drive your plot forward. They are also an excellent tool to hook your readers and get them to continue reading your book. Therefore, it is essential that you get to know your characters beyond a surface level. If this is something you struggle with or something you want to get better at doing, be sure to take note of these five tips!

1. Give Your Characters a Goal: It is of utmost importance that your character has a goal or purpose. Why are they in a particular situation? What do they want to gain from their journey? How does your character's goal add conflict to the story? Be sure to give your character a goal that is specific, yet flexible, as your character develops and grows. Remember, without a goal, your character has no purpose, and without purpose, it is hard to create conflict or drama within a story. 

2. Don't Focus on Being Perfect: Perfection is boring. In real life, no one on this earth is perfect, so why would your character be perfect? Make your character shy but mean, sweet but clumsy, or protective yet jealous. Remember a character's negative aspect doesn't have to be related to their personality. Maybe they live in horrible conditions or are looked down upon in society. Play around with the contradictions until you have a well-rounded, genuine, relatable, and utterly flawed character. 

3. Create a Past and a Future: We are all shaped by our pasts. Your character is no different. What's their backstory? How does their past shape who they are today? Has it made them a hero, a villain, or an anti-hero? How do they imagine their future? Most importantly, at the end of their journey, or your novel, how will their personality change? Will they be a better person, will they be hurt, or will they have changed for the worse?

4. Create a Struggle and a Support: Just as there is no perfect character, there is also no perfect journey. What will your character struggle with to attain their goal? How do their personality traits influence their struggles? Who are they at their worst? Have your character fail, get discouraged, and maybe even give up. Then show your readers who, or what, is the motivating force to get your character going again. 

5. Dig Deeper: What's your character's favorite music? Best memory? Worst memory? Religion? How do they speak? Where were they raised? Who is their best friend? Who is their enemy? What do they enjoy? Where do they work or go to school? Even if you won't use all of this in your manuscript, it's important to know as much as you can about every aspect of your character(s).

To make this process easier, I have an excellent resource or workbook that you might enjoy that is definitely helping me develop strong and relatable characters as I plot for NaNoWriMo. It is: Crafting Incredible Characters by Kristen Kieffer. This 109-page workbook has nine sections to help you craft well-rounded and spectacular characters. If you'd like to pick up this workbook, you can do so here

In the comments down below, let me know if these tips were helpful. Also, let me know if you enjoyed using Kristen's workbook. If so, be sure to send some love her way! Next Sunday, be sure to join me again for Part Four of this series as we dive into Plots, Subplots, and Outlines.

Happy Writing!