How Good Are You At Basic Math Interview Site Reddit.Com Keeping Track of Characters When Writing Fiction

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Keeping Track of Characters When Writing Fiction

Recently, one of my favorite well-known authors published a new book. I always buy her books as soon as they come out because they’re often a few years apart, and I can’t seem to get enough of her wonderfully quirky characters and interesting existences. Precisely because I respect this author so much, I will not reveal her name when talking about literature false step did in his last novel.

The error was regarding the main character’s age. The main character is sixty years old. He is divorced and has three daughters, the youngest of whom is still a teenager. At one point in the book he meets another person who is thirty-eight years old, which makes him remember that when he was thirty-eight he was already divorced and had three children. The math here just doesn’t add up, as her third daughter is a teenager in her sixties.

Sure, the mistake isn’t as bad as when James Fenimore Cooper changed a character’s name halfway through a novel, but it’s still a pretty big mistake. To avoid these mistakes, authors must know every little detail about their characters, far more than they even tell their readers, and keep a good record of those details.

Two helpful suggestions for keeping track of character details are to create a family tree for the characters and to interview each character.

Family trees can be simple or elaborate depending on the story, number of characters and detail required. The tree can be drawn on paper, but I highly recommend using a genealogy software program because much of the information required is presented in a format for the author. Start with the main character of the story, creating a list in the genealogy program for him or her. Most programs will ask for basic genealogy information such as: first name, middle and last name, nickname, title (Mr. Dr. etc.), dates of birth and death, places of birth and death, place of burial, and sometimes place of baptism A notes section will then allow you to write additional information about the character and provide sources for your information (the last thing you need for genealogy, but probably not for fictional characters).

Beyond the individual person, the program allows you to create a marriage for the main character, another separate entry for his wife, a date and place for the marriage, a box to check if they divorced, and individual lists for to the children . Of course, if the character isn’t married and doesn’t have kids, you don’t have to, but maybe your novel ends before he meets his future wife, but you secretly know he’s getting married two years after it ends. the novel, so you would like it. to create this information anyway.

Almost as important as the character’s current marriage and children is information about his family background. Even if his parents and grandparents don’t appear in the novel, I think it’s important to find out where this character comes from. Create entries for their parents and grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. You may not have thought about their grandparents before, but now if you decide they were immigrants from Croatia, it could make a big difference compared to whether they were Jews from Brooklyn or Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. Family origin is what tends to shape the character, his world view, his motivations, fears, hopes and dreams.

Be sure to be specific with all the information you provide. For dates, at least provide one year. Your character might be in his thirties and you’re writing the book in 2010, but when it’s published, it’ll be 2012. Does that mean he was born in 1980 or 1982, or is your book set in the 1960s? so maybe he was born in 1932 or 1938. You might even want to make his birthday April 12th or December 3rd. Give birth years and possibly birth dates for all other characters. Is it enough to say that the main character’s grandparents were born in England, or do they have to be born specifically in York, London or Penzance? How does the place where his grandparents were born influence the main character? Even if you never give specific years or dates to your novel, it can only make things easier for you by knowing these details for yourself.

It may seem like you’re just creating unnecessary details, but these details will help you avoid discrepancies later, so if you can’t remember how old the main character’s third daughter is, you can double-check and you can always change the facts. in the genealogy program as long as you also change them in your novel. You will also learn more about your character so that it becomes multi-dimensional.

Interviewing characters is another great way to get to know them and even create them. I recommend that you make some kind of standard interview sheet and keep one for each character, especially the main character, but also the supporting characters. The character next door might need its own sheet, might even need its own family tree. Most of the basic interview questions you would ask should already be in your genealogy program: name, date of birth, etc., so the interview sheet is the place to find out not only the details, but also what makes the character work.

Be sure to include physical descriptions here. Of course, ask the basics about hair and eye color, height and weight, but also consider how they may have changed. Was she born with blonde hair but turned brown in her twenties? He weighed 250 pounds in high school, but is only 130 pounds by the time he’s twenty-five? And of course, how did he lose weight? What is the most distinctive characteristic of your character? Are you happy with your physical appearance? Why or why not?

Find out as many details as you can. Ask your character about their favorites: What is your favorite movie/book/flavor of ice cream? Discover the character’s past. What jobs have you held and when? What schools did you attend? When was your first date? When did you decide you wanted to be an astronaut?

How do the other characters influence each character? If the main character’s grandfather died when he was sixteen, how did that affect him? If the main character decided to move to Florida when he finished college, how did his mother in Pennsylvania feel about her son being so far away? When Grandma left Italy after World War I, who did she leave behind and keep in touch with her family? How were the main character’s father raised by the grandparents, and how did that in turn affect how the main character was raised?

The questions you can ask are endless. The point is to ask a lot of questions. You are responsible for telling the story of this character’s life, even if the story only spans a few days or years. You want to do it right. You want to know the main character and all the supporting characters inside and out. Often this additional information can lead to ideas for further books, even sequels or spin-offs.

Be a good data collector. Not only will it prevent you from making a mistake with your characters, but it will create richer, more realistic characters that your readers will enjoy.

The great magic of writing fiction is in the details, and the more you know about them, the better. I have never forgotten EM Forster’s words: “Expansion. That is the idea to which the novelist must cling. Not completion. Not rounding but opening.” You want to create a world that feels real, a world that feels like it will live on and continue on its own even after you’ve read the last page of the book. Keeping good details about the characters is the start of making this fictional world seem real.

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