One week, one sentence. Wow, I'm making progress. No, but seriously. I have learned an absurd number of things in the last week that pertain to every aspect of my life as a writer. Today, I would like to leave Step 1, a one-sentence summary, behind and focus on step 3. I'll go back to step 2 shortly, I just really need to move on today.
Step 3) The above [steps 1 & 2] gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. Characters are the most important part of any novel, and the time you invest in designing them up front will pay off ten-fold when you start writing. For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a one-page summary sheet that tells:
- The character's name
- A one-sentence summary of the character's storyline
- The character's motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
- The character's goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
- The character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
- The character's epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
- A one-paragraph summary of the character's storylineAn important point: You may find that you need to go back and revise your one-sentence summary and/or your one-paragraph summary. Go ahead! This is good--it means your characters are teaching you things about your story. It's always okay at any stage of the design process to go back and revise earlier stages. In fact, it's not just okay--it's inevitable. And it's good. Any revisions you make now are revisions you won't need to make later on to a clunky 400 page manuscript.Another important point: It doesn't have to be perfect. The purpose of each step in the design process is to advance you to the next step. Keep your forward momentum! You can always come back later and fix it when you understand the story better. You will do this too, unless you're a lot smarter than I am.
The first character that I am am sharing with you is Scottie.
name: Andrew Scott, called Scottie by friends
one-sentence summary about characters storyline: Scottie does a lot of reflecting on being gay as he attempts to look forward and come out.
The character's motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?): He wants to find confidence and acceptance AKA an identity, within himself and from others, so he can move on.
The character's goal (what does he/she want concretely?): Scottie wants friends that he doesn't have to lie to.
The character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?): First boyfriend syndrome, mixed with running away from things he doesn't know or understand: Justin
The character's epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?: His life is about him, he has to make the decisions that will move him forward.
A one-paragraph summary of the character's storyline: Scottie reflects back on the beginning of his life and realizes that he's known he's gay for a long time. Once he makes this discovery, he tries to figure out if this is what defines him, and if so should he hide it, flaunt it? When Justin comes into the picture, it's the perfect setup, until they realize they are to become stepbrothers. Scottie finds himself dealing with his and Justin's problems, while Justin just ignores them both. Scottie 'kidnaps' Justin.
Okay, so you see I have a start. I had written more out, but lost it, yay. So, this is off the cuff, so not my style, but here it is. What I am looking for, in the way of comments and feedback, is probing questions that you think will help me to further define and specify who Scottie is. Of course, I'd be happy with anything, except..."Looking good, Jon!"!
Also, head over to Ali Cross's blog, she has does an awesome vlog segment called Ask Ali, where she answers all of our pressing writerly questions. Today, she is answering my question about staying focused. Ch-ch-ch-check it out!