At the end of January I finished my book. Yup. Me. I did it. There were plenty of times when I thought I wouldn’t complete my goal. But I did. I was so happy and proud of myself. Both weird feelings. Immediately I thought what is going to ruin this? Messed up right? Well like clockwork the universe answered my question in the most unimaginable way.
I lost my baby this week. My shadow. My booba. She blessed me with 13 years. It wasn’t long enough though. My heart is broken. My voice cracks when I talk about anything. Memories and sadness surround me. I know time will heal this pain but for now I am not sure when I can record a podcast episode. Until the balance within me is restored I am not even going to think about recording an episode. I will however focus on my editing.
Her death, the unrelenting emptiness I feel I will learn to carry as I continue to live and dream of my future. Of course I will always wish she could be by my side – snoring like usual – but she will always bring a smile to my face, tears to my eyes because of the love she effortlessly gave. If you have anything in your life you love please tell them – constantly – and hold them tight.
Once I have a good meaty outline and have conducted some or most of my research I move on to defining my characters. The ones I focus on first are the: protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters and minor characters.
After figuring out the name of any character I focus on their physical descriptions. Along with wanting the names in my novel to be unique/not commonly used, I try to do that with using different physical features.
For the main character I need to create a back story. What has brought them to this moment? What key elements of their life do I need to share?
Simply put…why is this person the villain? Are they just evil? What has caused them to do harm to others? Do they hide under the radar? Treat others differently after the crime has been committed? So many possibilities! So many questions!
How do these people become friends of the main character? I like the term support. That is their main purpose in my novel. To support the MC and help them navigate through the story. I firmly believe they are just as important as the MC. Without them telling the story would just not be fun. Like in real life we need family and friends to make life worth living and enjoying.
These are the people that provide a moment of relief, comfort, or simply a distraction. I love using them in that way. Let’s say the MC is grieving…insert a minor character with a weird flaw that the MC finds funny and can clear their mind and enjoy the simple human interaction.
With any character I try to make them relevant to the story I am telling. I want the reader to care and believe in my characters. I want them to compare or hopefully relate their family/friends to the ones I have created.
What do you think about when creating your characters? What do you struggle with when creating them?
After outlining for my mystery novel I start my research. There are four areas where I mostly conduct my research: Names, Job, Setting and Similar Stories.
I always start with character names when researching. Part of me feels like if I know their names before I start creating them I will know more about them very quickly. I like to pick somewhat different, unique names. I also like to look at their meaning, hoping it will describe the character somehow.
Below are a couple of websites I use for names:
Then I move onto what my characters do for work. If I don’t know too much about their jobs then I will look up a brief description of their duties. If their job is important to the story then I will dig deeper so I have plenty of references to use.
Right now the main characters are hairstylists, a teacher and of course law enforcement.
Next I decide where the story will take place. Either in a real city or one I create. So far I’ve only created the cities for my stories. Mostly because I can create every aspect of the town instead of learning every minuscule detail of a real town.
The town where my novel takes place is in the fictional town of Lander, VT located in the Northeast Kingdom. Personally I’ve never been but the pictures are absolutely beautiful. I’m excited at using this location.
Since this is a mystery novel I’ve been reading more crime novels and researching similar cases. I like to see how other authors set up their characters and how the investigation unfolds. It helps me gauge if my story is flowing smoothly and makes sense.
Do you research? How does it help you? What websites do you use?
The current novel I am working on is a mystery series. I had actually intended it to be a romance novel but I learned very quickly I am just not capable, at this time anyway, to write in that genre.
Once I figured out I wanted it to be a mystery I needed to plan out what would happen. Ideas, characters flooded my mind. Quickly I decided on the main characters, a short background history, who the victim and murderer were and why the act was committed.
I found myself labeling each section as scenes. Scene 1 I introduce the main character, Scene 2 I introduce her work life, etc. Sometimes a scene is just a couple of sentences, other times it includes very detailed description of events and dialogue.
I firmly believe there is no right or wrong way to plan your outline. Some people know what they want to write and stick to it while I am sure others change their minds daily on what direction they want to go.
For me an outline lets me see what I’ve built, what I need to add, if there are any plot holes and how it’s all going to come together.
Do you outline? How detailed do you get? Do they help you or just add more stress?
Below are a couple of helpful links on creating outlines:
The Writing Cooperative
The Write Life
So I’ve realized that I don’t have enough material to finish my novel. *sigh*
The last couple of days have been filled with brainstorming, index cards and lots and lots of editing. *double sigh*
Think my next step is to research crimes similar to the ones that happen in my novel. Thinking it might help me see what steps I might be missing in an investigation or provide inspiration for the narrative.
This is definitely a set back in regards to the timeline I gave myself. I’m trying not to be negative or down about the situation but reminding myself that this is all new to me and that it is important to learn now and grow as a writer so in the future I will have a better grasp of how to complete a novel in a timely manner.
Most importantly I must not give up and keep going forward!
Hope your writing adventure is going well! Let me know of any setbacks you’ve had and how you overcame them! 🙂