How to write fiction

How to plan your fictional character in 6 steps

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Pantsing…is an untranslatable word to Spanish and I ignore if Libbie Hawker in

 “Take off your pants. Outline your books for faster, better writing”  is the only one to sue it as a homemade remedy for the blank paper: to stare at it until the story grows itself like weed does. And what some other author; yes one of those who matter since they’re published[1], describes as a daily routine of: seating on front of the blank page, write a bit, strike through, erase, crumble the paper, practice long shots with them into the bin. No idea if the guy recycles at all.  In my house, used pages end up with the grocery shopping list on them; tough that’s not precisely real recycling.

To some other authors, this pantsing business is like getting lost in the middle of the forest…Once in a lifetime, I got lost together with a group of Junior high school classmates in Chapultepec forest —…kinda small compared to the size of Central Park — and it is so true that you might end up anywhere. Specially if the wood is large and your inner compass is incompetent; which might have you getting lost in Pachuca and Irapuato, provincially small cities. Thus, writing a half decent novel is like getting yourself in Siberia. There are stories one doesn’t get out from. If you don’t happen to plan.

…which is a bad habit when writing more than one a book a year is your surviving meal ticket. Today, it is impossible to work without an outline o scene programme so Jump gets out every Thursday and you boast the insane number of 50 titles by the age of 35. Of course, literature jewels don’t seem to have been written that way… depending on what kind of jewel you’re. Humberto Eco wrote a book every ten years or so…in theory. Whilst some other authors are very, very prolific.

And while in the meantime you discuss with yourself what to do with your story, let’s review in a Merriam way what is it that Libby proposes for planning characters. If by chance you would like to take compass and map to the writing forest. )Remember, like, subscribe, share, let it be or do whatever you feel like doing)

Summarised, it isa ll about to know your carácter. So much, you can tell if they likes chocolate mint ice cream or if they would rescue a baby from a bus on fire. And what are they Machiavelli imaginations to get whatever it is they desires.

How to plan a character and conflict in 6 steps?

  1. Without regard to how much you plan on filtering to the reader; you need to know: height, weight, zodiac, favourite subject, favourite food, bathroom breaks’ schedule.  I mean, they physical and emotional being.
  2. What do they want from life? To conquer the world every night? Live in Mars? To eat ramen in Japan? What??!!
  3. Who is they rival? Is there a moustached evil laughter guy dressed up in military green who wants the same from life? OK, it doesn’t need to be THE villain but someone who wishes for the same and fights the main character for it, even in not so daring ways. It can be like with a said vampire of mine…who drinks tea and eats biscuits who happens to be his own enemy.
  4. This is a joke of mine… Does they have an animal guardian? Dragon? Racoon? Camelean? Every princess has their own sidekick[2]. Who is their helper? Does they have siblings, friends, lovers who might help in any way?
  5. Does they make it? Sometimes the best part is not if the character gets what they wants but the process. Sometimes their goal has to be abandoned in favour of something even better or they get destroyed in the way precisely by getting what they want. Accomplishing the goal or not is just the chatacter’s goal; yours as a writer is to have them frustrated.
  6. Does they have vices? Characters need to have fatal weaknesses that help us to get in their way. Weaknesses that take them to take bad decisions enough to get to situations, problems or places to work with. When a character only behaves sensibly…you can’t have an story. A character’s a drug[3] and you can’t have the reader to get stuffed on them. You have to dosify it to minimal dosis so the reader is still hooked in their stupidity.

Let’s study a case

Rosy is my family by Gerald Durrell.

  1. Main character: Adrian Rookwhistle, dark haired, disorganized, orphan of both parents in a  boring job with a boring life…until uncle Amos dies from cirrhosis and leaves him an inheritance of a slightly alcohol driven elephant.
  2. In the beginning, he wishes for emotion, adventure…but the moment Rosy comes into scene (of whom he believes to be a female drunken acrobat) and menaces to put everything upside down; he starts to desire everything as it was.
  3. Adrian himself since by wishing everything to remain the same, he negates himself the right to enjoy and adventure.
  4. Rosy, whom in her elephantine chaos and destruction trail; takes Adrian to meet Sam, her father, Sir Magnus, Black Nell and other nice people.
  5. He doesn’t accomplish his goal. Adrian comes to discover on the way that Rosy is his last living relative, that he is in love and that he doesn’t want back to his old job.
  6. Adrian is stubborn and overthinks. He lacks assertivity to take decisions, thus he is unable to take situation in control and avoit the small catastrophes coming his way.

[1] Interviewed in Laberinto, Saturday complement in Milenio Diario.

[2] That’s right Maui and Moana.

[3] At least for Chuck Wendig.

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