Discovering Characters

One of the hardest things to do in writing

is to create characters that readers will care about,

that will make them have to read on.

Noah Luke

Discovering Characters is like investigating a house we want to buy.

No, I’m serious. Characters have an exterior façade that we comment upon as we drive past. Through the windows we catch glimpses of interior lives.

Even in cookie-cutter boxy cliques, characters have individual characteristics, just as the suburbia ranch houses have their garden plantings and the urban row houses have their painted doorways. These small touches create individual homes in neighborhoods.

Some characters enjoy the bright city lights. Some are loners, nestled against a national forest.  Characters, houses—each have individual personalities. Some are blingie, with the latest décor while others enjoy the comfort of yoga pants and old sneakers.

As writers, we capture these individual characters and save them from the cookie-cutter boxy stereotypes. We delve into interior rooms for glimpses of formative baggage. Finding their backstory is a search through attics and cellars, storage closets and garages. Characters hide their pain and fears, painting them over and adding distracting artwork.

Our job as writers is to find every detail of our characters then use snippets so our readers will see our characters as they drive through our books. We hint at the foundations while opening doors to their plans and purposes.

Discovering Characters is designed to help writers find the exteriors and interiors, public and private. We’ll dig around the foundations and climb to the roof. We’ll explore the open rooms and the storage closets. We’ll peek into rooms inhabited by such characters as diverse as Elizabeth and Darcy, the Iron Man, Aragorn and Frodo, Travis McGee, Medea, Macbeth, and Nanny McPhee.

Five areas comprise this guidebook. Just as characters—and houses—are individual, this info is individual. You won’t need every bit. Dip in and out, skim around. When you reach locked rooms, come back and explore to discover the keys to your characters.

  1. Starting Points ~ offering templates and character interviews
  2. Classifications ~ common and uncommon ways of discovering characters
  3. Relationships ~ couples, teams, allies, enemies, mentors, etc.
  4. Special Touches ~ progressions, transgressions, and transitions for character arcs
  5. Significant Lists ~ archetypal characters and much more

Discovering Characters, with 44,000-plus words, is the second book in the Discovering set, part of the Think like a Pro Writer series for writers new to the game as well as those wanting to up their game.

Discovering Your Novel

What kind of writer are you?  Planner or Plotter?  Pantster?  Puzzler?  Muse Muffin?

Whether you use the mosaic method or a chronological one, whether you outline every scene or let the words flow, the method does not matter.  What matters is the end goal.

So, what’s the end goal with your writing?  Just to write?  To publish?  Fame and fortune?

Plenty of frittery flutter-bys write and write and go nowhere.  As for fame and fortune, those can’t be guaranteed.

However, when your goal is publication, Discovering Your Novel is the guidebook to help you overcome the Sisyphean task of first word to publication.

With the goal of completing a novel in 52 weeks, this guidebook can be self-paced or tracked week by week for persistent success.

  • If you have a half-completed manuscript that you’re lost in, use the Foundations and Visioning sections to work your way out of the labyrinth.
  • If the story’s a mucky mire more like quicksand than a novel you can build on, use the Analysis section to clear away the mud and weeds.
  • Like a long ball of string, the multiple charts will help you keep track of where you’ve been and where you will head next.  Printable charts are available for free at the website address provided in the guidebook
  • When you complete the manuscript, what do you do next?  The sections on Harvesting and Finishing answer these questions as they guide you to creating a professional career as a writer.

Launch your writing journey at your current location on the publishing road—incipient idea or character sketches or story plan or struggling manuscript or completed novel looking into publication.

Track your progress with daily word counts recorded on the charts.

Learn the devices and definitions that pro writers have swirling in their heads.

Maintain the discipline and preparation that keeps pro writers at work, no matter the interruptions.

Writer M.A. Lee meandered along the road of unfinished manuscripts and completed novels with nowhere to publish for many years before she decided to drive to her own destiny.  If you’re tired of gatekeepers and pay-to-play schemes, if you’re weary of elitist traditional publishers and you’re eager to jump on the self-publishing juggernaut, then Discovering Your Novel will give the guidance you need.