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Characters > Planning the Character Sketch/Bio

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message 1: by Cathy (last edited Feb 23, 2010 11:35AM) (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Chick Lit is based a lot on good, solid characer development. Here are some ideas I gathered from reading See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit on how to write a character sketch:

Answer the following questions about your Main character:

Name Age

Physical description Education

Five words that describe her personality

Where does she work? Is she good at her job? Why? Or why not?

Her dream job, or dream life

Things that annoy her

Her bad habits

What people like about her

Her roadblocks to happiness

The person she trusts most (and why)

The person she should trust most (and why)

Her dream guy

What she does to relax

Before the book began, the best day of her life/worst day?


message 2: by Cathy (last edited Feb 23, 2010 11:37AM) (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
You can do the same exercise for secondary characters. Another idea for 2nd characters is to Make a Family Tree. From See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit:

- Main character in the middle, surround by secondary characters.
- Make a line connecting each character to the main character and how and why they are connected.
- Draw lines between the secondary characters and explain how and why they know each other and what they think of each other.


message 3: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacymarie913) I asked how to do this in a previous post - sorry. I hadn't had a chance to read the posts until this morning and started asking questions before I got all the way through.

It sounds like I'm going to need to order this book, I think it's going to be vital to my attempts at writing!


message 4: by Tara (new)

Tara Well I was going to start this last night but it didn't happen. Maybe this weekend.


message 5: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Stacy wrote: "It sounds like I'm go..."

It's definitely a good book (I thought anyways) and it's nice that it is specifcally for Chick Lit...it refernces a lot of authors and their first novels too...I'm trying to make it a goal or challenge for myself to read all these author's "Firsts"

It's also a pretty funny book at times too...easy read and quick reference..


message 6: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Also check out the discussion page where I posted some of my notes to the book for ideas on how to construct a character sketch for the challenge.,..it's just more detail from the book...

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...


message 7: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacymarie913) Since writing is something that I previously never put too much thought into, I'm kind of overwhelmed with all the information right now. I also ordered See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit and Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a Chick Lit Novel and I want to hold off on trying to do anything until I get them and have a chance to flip through them.
All this info that you've been posting, Cathy, is absolutely wonderful and helpful but I need to be able to hold it in my hands, you know what I mean?

I've been thinking about plot lines and character bios but I'm still in the, "I don't know," phase. I know it can go both ways, but I feel like I have to have a plot before I can develop a character. Maybe after reading these books, I'll change my mind.

My other (huge!) problem is my wanting it to be perfect the first time. I've never been a fan of rough drafts. When I write papers for my classes I hate seeing those two words because I want do it once and only once. I know I need to learn to let go of this "perfectionist" attitude, but it's really difficult. :)


message 8: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Hi Stacy - No worries - Definitely go at your own pace and wait for your books...I think See Jane Write will make you feel better...sounds a lot like the classic Perfectionist Procrastinator...I'm actually very similar which is probably why I have yet to sit down and just write myself...I'm good at doing all the research for writing in the world but actually writing...I have such a strong need for it to be "right" the first time...

you can read a lot of the books on Google books for free...in fact I just received my copy of the Yardley book this week...and will probably read it through again to avoid writing myself (though I'm going to really try to commit just a half hr a night to write...we'll see)...

but really please don't feel pressured to do anything you're not ready to do, this isn't meant to be a life-changing, career-shifting project...just supposed to be a some ladies bonding together and sharing in a hobby that they enjoy doing...so take your time, do what you can when you can and have fun with it!


message 9: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (diva2416) Stacy wrote: "Since writing is something that I previously never put too much thought into, I'm kind of overwhelmed with all the information right now. I also ordered [book:See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writ..."

Stacy, don't worry about your rough drafts. If it makes you feel better I rewrite everything 100x. Just try and get all your ideas on paper. Even if you have 2 great scenes in your head, but you can't figure out how to connect them, just write them down and connect them later.


message 10: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacymarie913) Thanks Cathy & Alicia,
I was getting kind of nervous about the whole thing. I don't want anyone to think I'm a slacker, but like you said Cathy - it's not a career change either. I'm more of a reader than a writer and I don't want writing to cut too much into my reading. :)


message 11: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Exactly....no stress...it's just meant to be fun...it's my personal dream to write a book but I can't stop reading so who knows how far away it'll actually be before I even make that real commitment:)


message 12: by Alicia (new)

Alicia (diva2416) Amen Cathy!


message 13: by Emily (new)

Emily (teaandscribbles) | 13 comments How I got worked to get past wanting things to be perfect the first time I did nano. It was where I had a time frame and a word count with others encouraging me to reach it. The point of the whole thing is quantity vs quality and just getting quaniity to write. Now, I am working on the quality. It dosen't work for everyone, but Stacy that worked for me and something to maybe consider. Just setting a time to work for quantity and concentrating on quality later.


message 14: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacymarie913) Emily wrote: "How I got worked to get past wanting things to be perfect the first time I did nano. It was where I had a time frame and a word count with others encouraging me to reach it. The point of the whole ..."

Thanks Emily, I'll try that. :)


message 15: by Tara (new)

Tara Great advice Emily. I think that will help me also.


message 16: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Hi all,

Just a question. I'm working ont he character sketches for my book and I just realized that two of my characters kind of have similar names...the main character is Emmaline (Em for short) and one of her best friends is Merilyn (Meri for short). Do you think they are too similar? Like I should change Merilyn or If I just refer to her as Meri it's okay? I suppose I could change her full name to Merideth?
I don't know..am I being totally silly?


message 17: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
I just found another great resource for "Getting to know Your Character"...very similar to the whole idea of plannign a character sketch...its quite long so I thought I'd just paste the link here:

http://charactercreator.blogspot.com/...

Hope this helps. Have fun!


message 18: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nicole21) | 14 comments Cathy wrote: "Hi all,

Just a question. I'm working ont he character sketches for my book and I just realized that two of my characters kind of have similar names...the main character is Emmaline (Em for short..."


Change the names if you like, but I don't think those are similar enough to confuse a reader since the sounds are so different at the beginning of the names. Since one is a main character, I don't think anyone would confuse her with a secondary character regardless of their names. I'm more likely to blend secondary characters together if they have similar names, looks, personalities, etc.


message 19: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
I am just starting to read Emily Giffin's Heart of the Matter...I think she is my very favorite author...and it's really all about her characters...she develops them so well that I feel like i know them...and I want to know so much more. THey are so real it's amazing. I had heard her in an interview say that she spends the majority of her pre-writing time focused on "getting to know" her characters. It's obviously paid off. I envy that and want to be able to learn from that..I guess other than doing an extensive character profile...which I've found endless questions to ask of my characters (see previous post for link)...what else can i do to really develop my characters?

I know I've heard, people watching, using your self and others near and dear to you, using photos, a timeline, looking at other fictional characters...

What do you all think? Do you have sany startegies to develop your fictional characters??


message 20: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 50 comments Cathy- What did you end up doing about your character's name? Just curious since I have run into a problem as well. I named my main character Lindsey, but I've recently read 2 books where characters were named Lindsey. So, I think I should pick something else. Oh & then there's the whole controversy with Lindsay Lohan saying her name is so popular and she's a one-name celebrity. ha.

I like how Sarah Dessen always picks really unique names for her characters.


message 21: by Cathy (last edited Mar 25, 2010 09:43AM) (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
I ended up just keeping my characters names because for the most part I will refer to them by nickname and Nicole suggested that as long as secondary characters are easily differentiated then its not a big deal...
My main character is Emmaline (Em)
and then the secondary characters are: (Still subject to change some of them, as is the plot, really:))
Isabella (Izzy)
Merilyn (Meri)
Ethan
Abigail (Abby)
Chris
Ramona (Rae)
John
Karla
Frederick (Oops..I forgot him...the ex who breaks up with her at the beginning!)

I had similar thoughts about my characters initially...I was going to name the love interst Luke but after being reminded of the Shopaholic series decided against it...

Later I found the love interest in other books to be Luke also and then I thought that some names are just more common than others so why wouldn't they be in multiple books?

I think it's entirely up to you and I wouldn't be too worried about other books or celebs (unless its something really dignifying like Madonna or Cher..but then again maybe there's a story behind why someone named their kid after a pop-culture icon!)


message 22: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
I also read somewhere that it's good to have one or even two unique names but to not have thme all be really unique like Soleil, Apple, Rainbow, etc for all of them because that's just not realistic that everyone would be so outstanding like that


message 23: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 50 comments Oh, I love the name Luke! One of my favorite names.

I loved reading the names of your characters. :)

So far, the characters in my story are:
Lindsey (main character, but will probably change)
Gretchen
Claire
Avery (the popular girl, figured she needed a unique name)
Lauren
Josh
Noah


message 24: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Suzanne wrote: "Oh, I love the name Luke! One of my favorite names.

I loved reading the names of your characters. :)

So far, the characters in my story are:
Lindsey (main character, but will probably chan..."



Oh I love those names! Very different...looks like a perfect mix of unique and usual names...can't wait to hear more about them:)


message 25: by Tara (new)

Tara Suzanne wrote: "Oh, I love the name Luke! One of my favorite names.

I loved reading the names of your characters. :)

So far, the characters in my story are:
Lindsey (main character, but will probably chan..."


I also have Luke as a character name. Actually Lucas. I love that name. I think I get it from being a fan of Chad Michael Murray and his name on One Tree Hill was Lucas Scott. I'm a nerd :)


message 26: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
I really like the name Lucas too...For some reason it reminds me fo the Goonies:) I don't even think there was a character named Luke in that movie...was there?


message 27: by Tara (new)

Tara I don't think so Cathy. Are you thinking of the movie Lucas with Corey Haim?


message 28: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 50 comments Tara wrote: "Suzanne wrote: "Oh, I love the name Luke! One of my favorite names.

I loved reading the names of your characters. :)

So far, the characters in my story are:
Lindsey (main character, but wi..."


Tara-I used to love One Tree Hill too. :) I don't watch it anymore though. I stopped watching when this new season started. It's funny because I also love the name Nathan.

Originally my 2 leads were going to be Lindsey and Lucas. ha. Can't do that, obviously. Originally I was thinking Lucas/Luke because of Gilmore Girls. :)


message 29: by Tara (new)

Tara I love the name Nathan too. I don't think One Tree Hill is as good since Payton and Lucas are gone.

I love Gilmore Girls too. I never thought of the Lucas/Luke on that show.


message 30: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 50 comments This is probably going to sound dumb. I decided to change my main character's name, but I haven't decided on a new name yet. I also don't want to keep it what it was (Lindsey). The problem is, ever since then, I haven't even wanted to work on the story. I feel I can't really write anything until I decide on a name!

I want a somewhat unique name, but not a strange name, if that makes sense. Also, the last name I have in mind is Donovan, so it has to go with that. I'm ok with the names for all the other characters in my story. I am just so annoyed right now!


message 31: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacymarie913) Suzanne wrote: "This is probably going to sound dumb. I decided to change my main character's name, but I haven't decided on a new name yet. I also don't want to keep it what it was (Lindsey). The problem is, ever..."

Hmmm...how about Amelia? That's the first name that popped into my head.


message 32: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 50 comments Stacy--That is so crazy because that is one of the names I was thinking of too!!! :) I was looking at baby name websites yesterday and that name kept standing out to me. I think that is a sign! Thanks :)


message 33: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
That's spooky!! One of my friend's and his wife just named their daughter Amelia...very cute and unique...I like it too! Can't wait to see some of your story (if you feel like sharing)


message 34: by Stacy (new)

Stacy (stacymarie913) Oh wow, that IS crazy!
You're right Suzanne, it must be a sign!


message 35: by Jencey/ (new)

Jencey/ (jencey) I have a feeling the next writing book I get will be Sarah Myllonski's Book See Jane Write. :)


message 36: by Cathy (last edited Apr 16, 2010 07:45AM) (new)

Cathy (cgraceh) | 236 comments Mod
Suzanne wrote: "Tara wrote: "Suzanne wrote: "Oh, I love the name Luke! One of my favorite names.

It's funny we were all talking about naming our characters Luke...check out this list of all the LUKE's in chick lit...I guess we are not alone in loving that name...maybe it's a 90210-era thing?? I don't know...

1. Luke Brandon of Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series: The head of a financial PR company has a sense of humour and is calm in a crisis - who better to keep an eye on Shopaholic Becky?

2. Luke of Meg Cabot's Queen of Babble series:
Lizzie Nichols meets Jean-Luc in France as she blabs about her problems. He becomes her rock.

3. Luke Benton of Confessions of a Serial Dater, by Michelle Cunnah: Dr Love saves Rosie when she goes on a disastrous dinner date wearing shoes two sizes too small.

4. Luke Flynn of Odd Mom Out, by Jane Porter:
This Man as Big as a Mountain makes Marta feel dizzy every time she sees him.

5. Luke of The Self-Preservation Society, by Kate Harrison: The grandson of former fighter pilot 'Frisky' helps scaredy cat Jo Morgan embrace spontaneity.

6. Luke Gabriel, of Jessica Adams' The Summer Psychic:
This psychic certainly gets Jo's attention when he predicts he's going to marry her.

7. Luke Bennett of Zoe Barnes' Special Delivery:
The social worker is the one who convinced his wife Ally to be a surrogate for her sister.

8. Luke Lloyd of Clare Naylor & Mimi Hare's Assistant series: He becomes a hot shot producer and Lizzie's fiance;.

9. Luke Wiseman, of My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson: Kamryn's boss becomes a father figure to Tegan, the daughter of her late best friend.

10. Luke, of If You Could See Me Now, by Cecelia Ahern: A different sort of leading man, Elizabeth Egan's nephew brings Ivan into her life.


message 37: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Postings (charpostings) I've planned out a basic 'sketch' of my characters personality. & just wanted some opinions really, incase any traits clashed, ect and where to go from here :)

So far, my character...

Jessica Hart -
funny, likes romantic novels, always in the wrong place at the wrong time, indecisive, makes witty remarks, fast at thinking on her feet, wants to be a writer, runs off when things start to get tough, currently works in a cafe, doesn't do commitments and is a sucker for pretty shoes and glittery items.


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