Time for casting!
Choosing my favourite actors is one of the many pleasures of embarking on a new novel. I also enjoy ‘inventing’ each character.
- I give them names.
- I decide their hopes and dreams.
- Also, I identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Every character needs a secret, and only I will decide what it is and if and when the other characters might discover it.
Wonderful sense of power!
How does Scrivener help with my casting?
Unlike Word, where you have a single file (or maybe multiple files, one per chapter), with Scrivener, everything is in one place:
- The manuscript – when I write it
- My characters
- My locations
- My research
- My marketing notes
At the start of any new project, starting to populate my story is what I do first. That’s how I work …
Casting 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’.
Casting time: Using 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.
Setting up your own Character Sketch template
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 a 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.
Casting time: Building a picture of each character
In my Dead Wood novel, I already have a lot of characters.
- Some are her family: her ex-husband and their two children, and her new husband.
- Some are the ladies she meets while on a singing weekend retreat.
- Nicola is her new neighbour, an ex-student of hers
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 Helen’s character sketch. No doubt, she will change during the course of writing the novel in November, but it’s a start.
Casting 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 Helen, as you can see, I’ve cast Susan Sarandon.
Once you’ve decided on your leading lady or man, 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.
Questions? Need a helping hand? Want a demo?
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