I can barely believe it but the day is finally here. I had the idea for Love Will Tear Us Apart for a long time and I’d actually written the first few chapters before I submitted Try Not to Breathe to agents… I was the mother of three young kids when I wrote those first lines, which never changed through the drafts.
Last week I shared some handy tools and techniques for planning a novel and because I’m literally currently doing this, I thought I’d follow up with the next step: planning characters.
Most of my books have a small ensemble ‘cast’ but I tend to start with the most ‘active’ voice and build that character first, the other characters are formed almost as ‘answers’ to that first character.
In Don’t Close Your Eyes, which features twins with equal billing and points of view, I started with one character (Robin) and then built the others using her as a starting point. The reason for this was simply that Robin came to me almost fully formed, so I had a running start. It’s not always that easy!
In Try Not to Breathe, I started with Amy. Although in the present day she is definitely not the most active, Amy’s point of view opens the book. And because the central question of the novel is ‘what happened to Amy?’ it was vital that she really came alive for the reader straight away.Readers have to care about what happens to a character, and you can’t care about someone you know nothing about.
But I don’t use anything remotely cutting edge to plan my characters…