The last week or so I’ve been noodling around with my intended next novel. I’ve been brainstorming what the major plot points should be, and what the main characters’ personalities are like, and what their primary motivations are, and stuff like that. I used to just dive in to the manuscript and figure these things out as I went, but the last couple of stories, and Stars especially, I’ve tried to work a lot more of this out in advance of actually writing anything. I think it’s served me well.
One of the most important things for me to nail down up front, I’ve learned, is what the characters are like. I can revise for plot details and motivation with no trouble, but it’s comparatively hard to revise for personality, because personality affects so much of what the character does. (Plus I just find it a pain.)
Dahlia Adler wrote an interesting post a little while ago over at YA Misfits about likable main characters. One of the things she pointed out was that most of our favourite heroines are confident people who like themselves, and that heroines we find annoying are often (usually?) the ones who lack self-esteem or belief in themselves. Which is, now that I reflect on it, totally true. I’ve been thinking about all the characters I like best and what their personality traits are like; seems like many faults are forgivable so long as the character likes and believes in themself.
I’ve been bearing this in mind as I craft this new character. The lead in Stars is a very confident, sometimes arrogant person, which was just the way she presented herself to me. I found this interesting because the leads of my previous manuscripts have all been much quieter, introverted and sometimes self-effacing people much more like the way I am personally. But I really enjoyed writing her, and I got a really good response to her from my readers. So hopefully that’ll be true of this new character, too!