Tweet chat 23rd October 2020 – Characterisation and place

Participants: Gerald Hornsby, Elizabeth Holland, Maria Johnson, Anita Belli, Ellie Holmes, Davielyn Lucas 

The topic this week was characterisation and place.

What genres do you write?

Romance, Romantic suspense, RomCom, romantic mystery, Political suspense thriller, crime mysteries, women’s contemporary fiction, historical, timeslips, writing craft (non-fiction).

We discussed experimenting in other genres and agreed that NaNoWriMo was a great opportunity to ‘dabble’ as one writer put it.


How do you develop your characters?

The Hole in the Soul method – which was shared last week see notes 16th October

Think of an actor who might play the character and pin a photograph up as reference. Or find a photo of a person in a magazine .

Let the character reveal themselves as you write. They often surprise you.

Combine the character traits of two or three people you know to make a fictitious character.

Ask your character lots of questions. See Anita Belli’s blog post on What if

Create characters with multiple layers and reveal them gradually as though peeling an onion.

How do you develop a character arc?

A five-act structure can be used to plan the change paradigm for each of the key characters alongside the plot changes. 

If a character changes as a result of an incident it has to be believable. Pile on the agony for your protagonist before they come through victorious. Some genres do not have much of a character arc as they are more plot driven – James Bond. However, most will have some sort of character development as a result of the plot.


How does place influence your writing?

Make a map with key locations.

Use Google Earth and street maps to explore a place for research.

An amalgamation of real places, or places from memory.

When a place feels like a character in your novel, one that you come to know and believe in, it reads as authentic to the reader.

How do you research a place that you have not visited in person?

First-hand accounts from people as part of your research. This includes first-hand experience of a time in history too. Talking to people or listening to recordings of people remembering a place and/or time. 

It is wonderful when you discover a tradition that exits in a certain area for example, the well dressings in the Peak District. I had to look this up. It is apparently a tradition introduced by the Celts or Romans and continued today by volunteers who hand create floral decorations between May and September. The origin of this tradition could inspire a story.

It was a smaller group this week, but lots of chat finding out more about one another.

Next Friday 30th October Gerald Hornsby author of the best-selling book NaNoWriMo – Meeting the challenge and inspiration from a 15 times winner.