NaNoWriMonday: Getting To Know My Characters

This is a NaNoWriMonday in name only, because, if you haven’t noticed, it’s not Monday. I kind of forgot that yesterday was Monday, so….NaNoWriTuesday!! Yay!!

My word count: 3,723

You should know that I’ve stepped into NaNo with the barest sliver of an idea. I’m serious. All I knew was that Finn is the main character, Ash and Savannah are his friends, they’ve been raised in a prison, and that one vague idea I had earlier on about why they’re there. That’s it.

Plunging into a novel without knowing virtually anything about it has been interesting. I mean, I like knowing things. Character development is one of the most important parts of writing to me, so working with characters that I don’t really know is challenging. It’s like a big experiment, trying different actions and dialogue with them to figure out how they act and respond to stimuli in their environment.

I still know pretty much nothing about my idea and where it’ll take me, but I’m happy to say that my characters are developing right before my very eyes (albeit a little slower than I’d like).

My main character, Finn, punches a guy earlier on in the story. Originally, I had figured that it would be because the guy had been picking on a little kid or on a girl. But, as I was writing the scene, it suddenly hit me: Finn is not the “righteous anger” kind of guy. Sure, he gets mad at certain injustices, but I realized in that moment that I wanted people to read this scene and not totally be on Finn’s side because the other guy is being horrible. I didn’t want anyone reading it and going, “well, that was the right thing to do because that guy had it coming”. People, if they like Finn, will probably still be on his side, but the scene isn’t as black-and-white anymore. There’s no “he’s punching the kid to do the right thing and save the little guy” feel anymore, and I’m totally okay with that.

Because Finn has a temper.

Something so extremely simple that had evaded my view before, but there it was, staring me in the face. I felt like it was something I should have known all along, because it just felt – right. I knew all so suddenly that Finn has a bad temper that will flare up at the most inopportune moments. When it does, he gets himself into trouble and occasionally punches people. You know, the usual.

Also, he’s a really sore winner, which kind of goes hand-in-hand with the temper thing.

There you go – in just a short scene, Finn started fleshing out and becoming more realistic. I was ecstatic that I discovered this about him, and I can’t wait to find out more about him and the other characters as I go along.

Moral of the story: Listen to your characters and go with your instinct. Also, don’t punch people.

If you’re doing NaNo, how is it going? Are you starting from scratch? If so, what have you learned about your characters so far? Have you ever had one of these “lightbulb” moments? I wanna know! 


4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMonday: Getting To Know My Characters

  1. I love moments like that. I love when a character reveals something about themselves you never realized before! I have a character, whom I love dearly, I had a startling realization about: He’s not kind or brave. He’s not the kind of person to put himself into danger to protect someone else. It took me a while to realize this. He’s very much worried about his own skin before anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad guy, he’s just not one to be the first to reach out. I hope to seem him grow to be more compassionate as the story continues. His closest friend is the ‘hero’ type and I hope that he’ll learn from him!


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