As I mentioned in last week’s post, my stories usually start with a character (or six) and progress from there. So this week, I’d like to talk a little about how I develop my characters in this early stage before I’ve written any words or even formulated more than one plot point.
I’ll be using the two main characters for my NaNoWriMo project as examples. For the purposes of the post we’ll be calling these characters Órflaith and Michi.
Órflaith is a High Sidhe who is more than 350 years old. She is the rightful ruler of a court and thus a queen among the fae.
Hair: golden base with streaks of jewel tones (blue, red, green)
Eyes: amber like a wolf
Skin: golden, actually glitters in natural sunlight
Features: striking features, sharp cheekbones, tall and regal
Michi is also a High Sidhe, but he’s only 10 when Órflaith meets him for the first time. (He should be 20 or so by the end of the book. I think…)
Skin: creamy pale with silver undertones
Features: delicate features, ethereally beautiful, lean, wiry
A little more in depth:
Órflaith has recently parted from her true love and their infant son in order to protect them from her enemies. (Or been kidnapped from them by said enemies, I’m still deciding that part.) Before that she sent away all her attendant and followers so that her child could be born in secret and lead a normal life in the mortal world away from all the politics that come with being royalty in the eyes of other fae.
Michi was three years old when he was taken from his parents and doesn’t remember anything before his captivity. He does remember the magic his mother taught him almost from the day he was born. With it he is able to create a space of his very own within the small room where he’s imprisoned. Every night he makes a new room that is exactly what he wants and every morning he disassembles it so his captors won’t find out he can do such a thing.
So the idea is that Michi was kidnapped by the group years ago and has been living in isolation pretty much his whole life. Órflaith has just been kidnapped and is introduced to Michi because the kidnappers know she is familiar with his family’s line of magic and hope she can teach him how to create (since they don’t realize he already can). Michi likes Órflaith since she’s kind, a fellow prisoner, and a fellow High Sidhe. So Michi makes a room just for Órflaith one night.
And that’s when the antagonist enters the picture.
So that, in a nut shell, is how the idea process tends to progress from character to plot and eventually on to actual words and scenes. I’ve left out some details since I am planning to publish this one eventually and I don’t want to leave any spoilers lying around, but you get the basic idea.
How about you?
I start with characters, but I love to hear how other writers develop their ideas. Do you start with a scene idea? The major conflict? A setting? Do you imagine the final confrontation scene first? There are as many ways to develop an idea for a novel as there are novelists, and I’d love to hear yours.