On Writing: Dramatis Personae
January 10, 2013
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Been having too many characters in my first two books that it was necessary for me to keep proper track of them via a dramatis personae (somewhat like a character appendix). In my third book, which I started preparing for, the new story revolves around a military unit composed of ten individuals. Because of the large number of main characters I decided to prepare their history and characters more thoroughly than I used to before.
The process which I thought would be tedious due to research was, actually, rather interesting. I spent the better part of yesterday researching and basing each of my characters’ personalities on historical or mythological individuals. I also used the big five theory of personality to help me plan their tendencies based on the roles they hold within this unit.
The process started with me just using one of the concepts I came up with in while writing my first book and expanding on it, the unit of ten. Then, I made a list of all the skills necessary for the survival of the group throughout their journey and divided them across the members. Once I was done with the skills, I looked up the names based on their roles; researching historical and mythological figures. Following the naming, I fine tuned the skills to match with the figures; if sufficient information was found by my research. The final step was to add some kinks and twists to each character to make them unique. For example, the leader has this thing with his hair where he stresses to keep it properly combed all the time.
When I was done, I found myself staring at a document of 5,000 words where my characters were described in some detail. Next step for me is to prepare the outline. However, instead of preparing the outline for the entire story, I will be writing a more detailed outline for each chapter or story section one at a time because of a phenomenon I observed while writing my second story. When I was working on my second story, where I decided to prepare an outline before writing it, I spent a day preparing the outline of the story to keep the flow of the events as smooth as possible. Although the events were far more thought out than the first book and the chapters flowed smoothly, I found myself unexcited about writing midway the book; I have simply lost the excitement of writing a new book due to my preparation. In order to prevent this issue, the new book will be prepared chapter by chapter prior to me writing it – hopefully the plot would still flow smoothly.