Character Study: NaNoWriMo Prep, Pt. 1

NaNoWriMo is only four days away but I am itching to get writing. None of my words count before Nov. 1st, and I play fair, so I am letting all of that creative pressure build in hopes that once that starting gate opens I will be sprinting my way through writing my second novel.

There is still the matter of the itch, and since I am writing a sequel I though it behooved me to climb back into my characters minds and walk around for a bit before I try any running. To accomplish that I have found some character development questions that I’m going to answer for three significant characters in a manner as spoiler-free as possible.

Autumn Kavanaugh

  1. What’s your character’s favourite colour?Yellow
  2. Do they/would they choose to wear a scent? What would it be?Possibly. Something bright and fun but comforting, with fruity notes to it. Blackberry and vanilla. 
  3. Do they care about what things look like? All things, or only some?Not generally. She has a utilitarian approach to looks, where things need only look good “enough”. The bar for “enough” is set fairly low.
  4. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour? Strawberry.
  5. Are they a tea, or coffee drinker? Or soft drinks, or do they drink a lot of alcohol? What kind?Lemonade is her favorite drink, soda (Orange or Strawberry Fanta) a close second. She does not drink alcohol.
  6. What kind of books do they read? What TV shows and movies do they watch? She reads fiction, preferably funny. Nothing too dark. No crime novels or shows, no mysteries. She doesn’t like to read books or watch shows that use suffering for entertainment value. Enjoys novels of manners like those by Jane Austin, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Thackeray. She likes musicals, and comedies with heart. She’d take Emily to watch Pitch Perfect and she’d buy Juno and the collected works of John Hughes. When watching TV she’d choose So You Think You Can Dance or The Big Bang Theory.
  7. What kind of music do they like? Do they like music at all? She loves music, particularly if it’s good for dancing. Favors punk, electronica, and sillier showtunes. She would definitely have “Gangnam Style”, Ellie Goulding’s albums, and be up on the latest developments in dubstep.
  8. If they were about to die, what would they have as their last meal? Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and blueberry pie (that she probably made herself) for dessert. With lemonade to drink, of course.
  9. Are they hedonistic? In all cases? Or does practicality sometimes/always/often win out? Autumn is mostly practical, but at a point in her life where she is looking to think less to ignore some things that aren’t going so well. She’s trying hedonism on, but it doesn’t necessarily suit her. She’s inclined to be a bit of a martyr, though she doesn’t think of it that way.
  10. Do they have any philias or phobias? Fear of abandonment, and she’s not crazy about fire or loss of control (hence the avoidance of alcohol).

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Emily Kavanaugh

  1. What’s your character’s favourite colour? Lavender

    She better keep this one well-hidden.

  2. Do they/would they choose to wear a scent? What would it be? Floral, with lots of white flowers like lilies or gardenias. Possibly a chocolate note.
  3. Do they care about what things look like? All things, or only some? Yes, very much. Emily is highly invested in things looking just the way they are “supposed to”, including herself…to the point that her expectations might not be strictly realistic.
  4. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour? Cherry Garcia
  5. Are they a tea, or coffee drinker? Or soft drinks, or do they drink a lot of alcohol? What kind? She drinks alcohol socially, when it is offered, but she doesn’t seek it out. Her favorite drink is hot chocolate (with a mound of whipped cream atop a flotilla of marshmallows). She drinks tea when she can get it, and root beer the rest of the time.
  6. What kind of books do they read? What TV shows and movies do they watch? She reads romance novels and fairy tale updates, though no one outside of her home knows that. She prefers the more outlandish romances, the ones with pirates and knights. Twilight is her bible.  Her taste in movies runs to romance as well, comedies are fine but she particularly likes the dramas. She’d be first in line for Breaking Dawn Pt. 2, watch Anna Karenina with her sister, and she owns well-worn copies of Titanic and Dirty Dancing. She’d watch Once Upon A Time and Vampire Diaries.
  7. What kind of music do they like? Do they like music at all? Pop, particularly ballads. Her Spotify would show Leona Lewis, Taylor Swift, and Celine Dion in heavy rotation. She likes “Someone Like You”, but not Adele’s other songs, and she thinks Carrie Underwood has too much attitude. Justin Beiber and One Direction would fulfill the dreamy boy requirement.
  8. If they were about to die, what would they have as their last meal? Lobster, with chocolate mousse for dessert.
  9. Are they hedonistic? In all cases? Or does practicality sometimes/always/often win out? She is. Emily lives almost entirely in service to her own pleasure, and she can rationalize most of her behavior to seem thought-out rather than based on a whim. Practicality does not win out because Emily doesn’t have much concept of what is practical.
  10. Do they have any philias or phobias? She is afraid of deprivation. She’s afraid of looking foolish or uncool.

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Silas

  1. What’s your character’s favourite colour?He likes deep earthtones: oxblood, mohogany, and forest green…but he doesn’t really care enough to choose a favorite.
  2. Do they/would they choose to wear a scent? What would it be? His own natural musk.
  3. Do they care about what things look like? All things, or only some?In a low-key, binary way. Things are attractive/unattractive, cool/uncool, appealing/unappealing without a lot of shades in between. That is the degree to which it affects his decision-making. Want or do-not-want.
  4. What’s their favourite ice cream flavour? Dark Chocolate
  5. Are they a tea, or coffee drinker? Or soft drinks, or do they drink a lot of alcohol? What kind? He drinks quite a bit of alcohol, homemade wine and store-bought beer, though it doesn’t often show. He’s not big on coffee, soda, or tea, though he’ll take whatever’s offered and does go for the occasional glass of milk.
  6. What kind of books do they read? What TV shows and movies do they watch? He doesn’t read or watch TV much. He’s read the classics that pop up in conversation Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, etc. He’s read a couple of Nick Hornby books three-quarters of the way through before he got bored and moved on. Jeopardy!, horse racing on ESPN, and big cat documentaries can sometimes hold his interest. When he goes to the movies he chooses raunchy comedies like Project X or Superbad.
  7. What kind of music do they like? Do they like music at all? Looking at him one might guess Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson, but he actually leans more toward the tortured and disgruntled: Trent Reznor, Johnny Cash, and Black Flag pour from the speakers in his crappy Volkswagen.
  8. If they were about to die, what would they have as their last meal? Spicy sausage with peppers, a perfectly ripe orange, chili-cheese curly fries, some figs, and a chocolate milkshake all washed down with a bottle of cherry wine.
  9. Are they hedonistic? In all cases? Or does practicality sometimes/always/often win out?At his core, Silas is a hedonist. However, he can put that inclination aside for a time in order to focus on reaching a specific goal.
  10. Do they have any philias or phobias? He loves horse racing and the sensual pleasures: food, sex, music, you name it. He is afraid of losing the people he loves, and he keeps that circle small as a result.

I have yet to revise Grove, and I kind of knew that I should do an exercise like this before trying because these three characters were not as three-dimensional as I wanted them to be. This was pretty useful in for clarifying who they are, how they should have related to each other in Grove, and how they will relate in Starsand. Stay tuned for another installment of Character Study tomorrow!

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5 responses to “Character Study: NaNoWriMo Prep, Pt. 1

  1. I enjoyed these so much that I am going to have to try them on my own characters! Here’s the thing for me though: I need to write the characters’ story before I fill out the character sheets. I know, sounds backwards, but that’s how it works for me. I’m just glad it works at all!
    Anyway, it might not be all bad that your characters grew in the process of writing the story. You’ve got them down real well here.

    Mmmmm, dark chocolate ice cream? Must get me some of that. 🙂

  2. That’s why I didn’t do character sheets before I wrote Grove. I needed to get to know them better, I guess. Try them in different situations before I would know which answers felt right for questions like these.

  3. This looks great! I’m going to definitely have to steal this for my own characters! What a great way to get to know/remember your characters!

  4. Pingback: Writing Tools and Resources to Help With Your Fiction Novel | Halo Publishing International Blog

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