Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Free Novel Writing Software - Developing Characters Using yWriter5

Using the free novel writing software yWriter as mentioned in the previous post, we must meet our characters. We know what the story would be about and saved it in the project notes and project settings tabs.

The book blurb for my project would read something like this:

Having lost everything in her life that she holds dear, 29-year-old Superintendent Valarie MacDonald grabbed at the chance to track a serial rapist to New York. When the FBI offered their assistance to find the man she had been hunting for three years, Val didn't think twice. That is until she met Special Agent Rocke Gillian. Arrogant and self assured, he challenged her investigative methods and her life philosophy. In the bustling city of New York, she has to battle the cunning of a dangerous murderer, but her worst enemy appeared to be herself and the attraction she felt towards the handsome Rocke.

I know it sounds so clichéd, but we have to start somewhere.

If you read the other posts on this blog, I suggested ways to develop a character so that you feel you intimately know the person. From the short summary above, we know there are at least three characters in the book, namely Valarie MacDonald, Rocke Gillian and the murderer. We now need to create bios for each of them so that at least we know what we are talking about (even though the writing skills may still confuse the reader).

Click on the Character tab in the top toolbar and select "Add New". A character sheet opens with five tabs. Start by typing in the character's name, nickname and then proceed to the description box - still on the same tab.

Here I like to answer questions like:
1.    How old is the character?
2.    What does the character look like (eyes, complexion, hair, height, weight)
3.    How does the character dress?

Moving to the next tab (Bio) I want to know the following:
1.    Where did she grow up?
2.    What kind of childhood did she have?
3.    How does she feel about her parents?
4.    What type of child was she - introvert/extrovert?
5.    What lead to her doing the job she does now?
6.    What was her love life like before the book starts?
7.    Anything that happened in her past that influenced her actions and decisions in the book.

Moving to the "Notes" tab, you can put anything you like in there. Oddities the character does and why, particular pet peeves or likes. Does the name of the character have a meaning? Can you incorporate that into the book?

Under the "Goal" tab, you can insert the way you want your character to grow. In this instance, Val lost her husband and son in a freak motor accident. She is love-shy and afraid to commit her heart to anyone else for fear of experiencing the same pain of loss again. (Yikes, but it does sound like all the other romances out there!)

She needs to grow into unwillingly feeling more for Rocke than she is prepared to admit, concluded that it isn’t so bad to have loved and lost the love. A life without love is not worth living - something like that. I’m sure you get the message.

Under the same tab, I like to have the character tell me more about herself/himself in her/his own voice. This may sound ridiculous, but it establishes a voice for the character in your head. The reader will never see the notes you make here, but these notes will help you keep the narrative true to the character you set in the beginning of the book.

The last tab is the "picture" tab where you can upload a picture of a person resembling the character you try to create. This helps when you need to describe other people's reactions to the character and makes your character seem more real to you.

Follow the same procedure with the locations where the book takes place and here, if you have a picture of the places you describe, it would aid tremendously in writing good prose to take the reader there.

In the next post, we will start planning the novel itself - chapter by chapter and scène by scène.

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