Time for the casting couch!
One of the fun parts of writing a new novel is casting your characters: giving them names, deciding their hopes and dreams, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
Everyone needs a secret, and only you will decide what it is and if and when the other characters might discover it.
Casting couch time: Setting up a new character sketch
To set up a new character sketch, right click on the Characters folder and select Add / New From Template / Character Sketch.
Scrivener provides two (default) templates: one for your characters, and another for locations, which you can set up under ‘Places’.
Scrivener’s Character Sketch template
Scrivener’s Character Sketch template provides a list of headings which will prompt you to build your character:
- Role in Story
- Physical Description
- Internal Conflicts
- External Conflicts
If this list doesn’t suit you, you could set up your own character sketch temple.
Maybe you’ve been on a creative writing course and you prefer a much more detailed version, and/or you’ve read several books on characterisation, and would like to devise your own list.
Here are some extras you might want to include:
- 5 words this character might use to describe him/herself
- How the other characters view this character
- Who this character spends time with
- Outlook on life
- Typical day
- Favourites (colour, number, holiday destination, food/drink)
How to set up your own Character Sketch template
- Duplicate the default Character Sketch document. Scrivener will call the new one ‘Character Sketch Copy’.
- Rename the new document, choosing a title that makes sense to you.
- Amend the headings in your version of the character template, to include as much, or as little, information that you feel is necessary.
- Then, it’ll be offered, when you next set up a character.
Building a picture of each character
In my Lucinda’s Legacy novel, I already have a lot of characters. I’ve identified her three children, their spouses and all the grandchildren.
To create a sort of ‘family tree’, I’ve grouped all these relatives under the character sketch for her dead husband, Charles Davenport.
Then I have Lucinda’s twin, Hazel, and the new love of Lucinda’s life: Tommy.
I’m sure other characters will emerge during the run up to NaNo2017, and, for each one, I can simply add a new character sketch. Easy!
It’s up to you how much detail you write during the planning stage. I find, the more I write about a character, before I start NaNoWriMo, the better I know each character and the easier it becomes to write that first draft.
This is the beginnings of Lucinda’s character sketch. No doubt, she will change during the course of writing the novel in November, but it’s a start.
Casting couch time: choosing who to play your characters
If it helps you – it does me! – you could include a photo of someone you know, or a famous actor, within your character sketch. For Lucinda, as you can see, I’ve cast Judi Dench.
Simply drag an image from an Internet page into position. Be aware that photos may be copyright protected but, if it’s for your personal use, rather than profit, there should be no problem.
I’ve not completed the details for Tommy yet, but I know who I’d like to play this part: my playwriting tutor, Paul Dodgson.
Tommy’s secret is that he’s part of the family, which will be a great surprise for his mother and an enormous shock for everyone else in the Davenport tribe.
Questions? Need a helping hand? Want a demo?
To watch me go through the process of setting up a character sketch or to ask any questions, book a place at the next Simply Scrivener Special. 60 minutes of Q&A on Scrivener with me, Anne Rainbow, ScrivenerVirgin!
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