Editing my Third Novel: #3 – Characterisation

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People. Characters.

This is covered in chapter two of  Helen Corner-Bryant’s   On Editing: How to Edit Your Novel the Professional Way.  I have way to many characters in my novel-in-progress and it’s time to see what it happening.

So according to the course, the second topic covered will be below which ties in nicely with chapter two of her book – (Creating and controlling your characters).

Cracking Characters
Aim:
Find out how to assess character strengths and weaknesses, and flesh out less defined characters. Analyse characters in terms of their role and function in the plot, looking at character arcs and their impact on structure.

Outcome:
Make a detailed analysis of your protagonist, including their inner and external conflicts mapped side by side with your plot structure.

Romancing the Couple

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Because I’m writing a romance, I have two lead characters however I also have a string of other characters. And to be fair just the course outline of Analyse characters in terms of their role and function in the plot, looking at character arcs and their impact on structure gave me enough to go on, however because of this part of the course, I read the chapter.

If you are a writer who loves details on characterisations, and getting down and dirty with characterisation, you’ll LOVE this chapter. It really gets to grips with the nuances. Ideas for words, questionnaires, POV etc. Areas to avoid etc. Very rich chapter.

However for me – note each writer works differently – , I’ve learnt jumping deep into characterisation is another ‘chasing Alice down the rabbit hole’. In the past, I’ve spent too much time on planning etc and then got stuck, so now I’m keeping it simple and just following the verbatim on the course outline. Top level summary is best.

What I found useful for my style of writing

There is a section on ‘What’s the problem?’ within the chapter which was excellent for my book, and the last paragraph at the end of the chapter. However there is plenty on characterisation. Note, I also have four books on characterisation, so I’m probably all charactered-out. Oh, and I also did a wonderful online course called Create Brilliant Characters with Faber Academy run by Tom Bromley (a brilliant and gifted creative writing tutor).

Did I ….

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Find out how to assess character strengths and weaknesses, and flesh out less defined characters. Analyse characters in terms of their role and function in the plot, looking at character arcs and their impact on structure.

This is quite a mouthful so I’ll break it down. I’m leaving my characters strengths and weakness to when I write the scene level, and the same for less defined characters. I haven’t thought too much about roles and functions as yet. But I have looked at characters arcs and their impact. Yes, that I have.

I’m making assumptions here based on the outline but I have found it useful.

Did I have this outcome?

Make a detailed analysis of your protagonist, including their inner and external conflicts mapped side by side with your plot structure.

Not in this way because it would have been too prescriptive for me.   I did most of the work in my scene summary.  And I’ve decided to save this for the actual rewrite level.

What I loved about this chapter in the book.

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There is so much on the internet about characterisation, and it’s hard and cumbersome and tedious. However this chapter was very detailed and gives a good grounding. It also made me remember I had paid for a Faber course which I’d promptly forgotten in the heat of doing this.  It was a short course over a year ago, which is long time in writing time. So I’m going to revise that course and see what happens.

Also the course outline is enough to give me the direction I need, but do remember I have a bit of background knowledge.

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