A character spider

writing aid character spider

Spoiler alert
This character spider contains facts about characters in my second novel The Act of Falling that don’t appear in the text. If you know anything about personality disorders you would probably work them out anyway, but just thought I’d mention that.

The size of the circle
My focus is on Emily Hamton, therefore she takes centre stage in this diagram. However, the novel is written from the POV of Richard. The size of each circle is roughly the prominence of a character in the text. There are three circle sizes, therefore primary, secondary and bit part players.

My nerdy approach to plot and character
I usually have a broad idea of the plot and theme of the novel – although I’m personally not so concerned with the theme as it seems a bit like lecturing to your readers.

The plot develops intricacies as I write. I keep that under control in another way, which I will post here soon. The characters also develop and this graphic helps me to keep the salient points of their relationships and history consistent.

Does the world need another novel?

my desk with scraps of writing on it

Probably not, and yet I’m writing my fourth novel. So why?

I still don’t have a simple, single sentence answer to that question of why I do it – but here are some of the excuses I’ve used when I don’t feel people want the full answer.

I wanted to see if I could write 90,000 words
There was this idea for a story that I had to write down
It’s fun, I do it as a hobby really
I hope to find fame and fortune by writing a bestseller

The real reason is… I don’t always understand people in real life (ref sub clinical autism – whatever that means). In a creating a story I get to invent the character’s and their motivation. I am inside the head of every character. I know why they do what they do, what they mean when say something and what they want.

When I’m submerged in writing is the only time I am confident that I know what’s happening. The rest of my life is spent muddling through with guesswork and I often misunderstand what’s said to me.

So, what’s your excuse?

Gender fluidity in creative writing

Flip book for children

A man writing women’s fiction?

I am a man writing women’s commercial fiction. I never set out to trespass into a genre that is usually written ‘by women’ and ‘for women’, it just happened.

When I was a child we had flip books that showed us how bizarre gender stereotyping is. They don’t exist now in the same simplistic format, I presume because the gender specific portrayals they were based on are no longer acceptable. But if your based the characters on a man baking a cake, a female firefighter, a male nurse and a businesswoman, maybe it would still work – or maybe not.

I am just setting out the plot of a new novel, set around one hundred years in the future and the protagonist is not only female, but a teenager – as is the second most prominent character. This novel has a working title of Hannah’s Island. I plan to post the way the idea grows each week – without giving away the plot I hope.

Does everyone, except autobiographers, write outside their own personal experience?