Category: character development

NaNoWriMo New Character GeneratorWant to add a little extra…

NaNoWriMo New Character Generator

Want to add a little extra oomph into your story? Or need someone to help get your main character out of a bind? Use your name and birthday to find out what new character you should introduce into your current work in progress!

And don’t forget to update your Camp NaNoWriMo projects—it’s not to late to start!

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—Claire Kann hails from the glorious Bay Area where the weather…

Claire Kann hails from the glorious Bay Area where the weather is regrettably not nearly as temperate as it used to be. Let’s Talk About Love is her debut YA contemporary novel, published in 2018 with Swoon Reads/Macmillan. A sucker for instant gratification, she also posts new stories regularly to Wattpad, including the two Watty Award-winning stories: The Scavenger Hunt and #Fatgirl Magic.

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Text added over original image by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash.

prompt 991

Answer the following questions and then write about the creature that emerge from that exercise.

Forget Disney. You are making a mermaid or a siren. What type of mermaid is it? Are they pretty? Are they weird? How big are they? What color/s? Do they speak.

Sirens: what does their song sound like? What do they say? How do they capture you? What do they do once they capture you? Can they communicate with humans?

Let yourself go. Have fun!

Hi! Can you please help me with my story? So I’m writing about an antagonist and she’s a hired killer. One night, someone saw her doing her job. She saw the guy and shot him in his back, almost near his heart. But in this story, I kind of put an advanced technology here. So the guy got in the hospital, went in a coma but soon woke up from it, and here’s the thing. The bullet – when it hit someone, it disintegrates and disappears but it leaves a hole.

Pt. 2 This is the
continuation. So the question is: how can the doctors say that he had a hole,
most probably from a bullet (in their pov), but can’t say it came from it
because they have no evidence? Another one. It’s about the antagonist that is a
hired killer. I can’t think of any way why she became one. Will you please help
me?

Hello, hello! Wow, good questions! I will be honest,
I am not a healthcare professional, but I will give this my best go. I used the
blog @scriptmedic, who is a professional and has written numerous posts on a
wide range of medical mishaps for research, and I highly suggest you check it out! Here we go!

image

Warning! Discussion of weapons, bullets, injuries, and antagonists ahead!

Firstly, advanced tech aside, a bullet wound is a bullet
wound. In the ER, a trained doctor will
be able to tell you what caused the damage. A bullet entering the body creates
a path which a knife, or any other kind of blade cannot create. A knife pierces
with a slash path and bleeds like crazy. When a bullet penetrates, it displaces
the tissue surrounding the path, creating both a permanent wound and a
temporary stretch cavity. This means the tissue expands then retracts back down
to a bullet sized trauma entry and path.The bigger the bullet, the bigger the hole; but  this raises the probability of death, which for our patient, we don’t want.

Now in regards to your disintegrating bullet, first of all
what a brilliant idea, and second I am applying @scriptmedic’s rule of, “You
break it, you bought it”. Meaning, since you are the creator and it isn’t exactly
common knowledge around disintegrating ammo, some elements will either be up to
you to decide or logically figure out. Now, we know that our patient only has
one entry hole since the bullet disintegrates after impact and we know that
there is no physical evidence of the bullet. But there are a few things that
need to be kept in mind. 1) A medical team’s primary concern is that the
patient does not die, 2) an experienced trauma doctor can determine it’s a
bullet wound, and 3) forensics are sometimes able to pick up residue from a
gunshot from the clothing a person was wearing. 

My suggestion is that you do a bit of research on bullets,
especially the frangible bullets (“disintegrating” bullets) that are used by
the military for training and close proximity environments. The difference between your idea and frangible bullets is that frangible bullets are designed to not ricochet after hitting, say a tank, during a training session. They are designed to minimize damage and the danger level while working in either close proximity to other people or during training sessions. At close range, they probably are lethal, but these bullets do not disappear, only fracture upon impact to minimize damage. You may have to be
a little creative and create something that completely disintegrates and does not create the same “clean
cut” that the average bullet would. Bullets can change direction as they hit
bone
, but the amount and type of damage they are able to create is again
limited to a bullet.

Antagonist Time!

image

While past hurt or tragedy does not justify
a character’s future actions, it does offer an explanation – a very good
explanation. As a writing friend put it, “personal motivation is always the
strongest factor, either for revenge or self-reward”, to which I will add even
if a person has nothing in the world they care to keep or protect, they are
still fighting for themselves and what they think they deserve. So, why did she
become a hired killer? My assumption is that at some point she realized A) she
had the skill-level and knowledge, B) she didn’t care or her conscience was
numb to murder, and C) she needed the money that badly. Of course, you could explore the possibility of traumatic
childhood or unfortunate circumstances that forced her need to survive, but the
three points I just named are things you should consider during your creative
process. I don’t know your character, but you could also explore her perspective
on things. For example, instead of a bad past, her thinking could be backwards
and she wholeheartedly believes that she is the hero and is taking out the bad
guys. It is a common viewpoint of a villain, but for characters like D.C.’s
Oliver Queen a.k.a Green Arrow, he is portrayed as the hero even though he is
murdering the bad guys to protect Star City. But even with Oliver, his experiences
and desperate fight for survival on a deserted island facing assassins, gives
him his edge to fight. I suggest you really get into her skin and figure out
how she feels about being a hired killer. Does she feel badly? Maybe she isn’t completely
cold and just had an unfortunate experience or a bad past? Or if she views our
patient as the bad guy, maybe she believes she is the hero? Does she enjoy her
job? Maybe she really is a dark antagonist?

Why your character is the way she is, is up to you. You are
the author, and you get to decide. As to how your patient survives and stumps
the doctors, its advanced technology, something you created, so bend the rules
a little! Sometimes TV and book doctors really don’t know because its plot convenient.
I hope I was able to lend a helping hand and point you down the right rabbit
trail.

As always,

Happy Writing!

-Mia

prompt 987

No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.

                                                           —Abraham Lincoln

Hello! I have a question. So I have a story with 3 lead characters on a journey. One is a bodyguard with air magic, one is sort of the brains of the operation, and the last one is a mute toddler with powers of her own. Her character contributes quite a bit as far as plot goes, but as for her participation in the group I’m kind of at a loss. I was wondering, is there a way to get her a bit more involved with the others? Are there any resources you would recommend looking into?

image

@abigaillustrations

Infants, toddlers, and children are fantastic opportunities for humor, symbolism, and character development for the older characters. Toddlers are rambunctious little scamps who are at the cusp of realizing that they are independent beings. They often oscillate between wanting freedom and wanting to rely on their caregivers. So, unless your toddler is completely self-reliant (which, realistically, they are not), she will always be involved with the other characters. 

Toddler-hood tends to span between the ages of 12 and 36 months. There are a set of milestones [1,2,3] that children are typically expected to reach within this time period, but those goals are not always met. The growth and personality of a toddler will change multiple times between the ages of 12 and 36 months, and so will her cognitive, physical, social, and motor skills. Depending on the age range, your older characters could be dealing with a completely helpless child, or one who is able to run around and climb all of the dangerous objects. The toddler will require a lot of care and supervision regardless of her age, but the types of supervision will be different throughout her growth and development. 

Having a mute toddler is an entirely different struggle. Toldder-hood is when children start being able to speak and communicate. Not being able to speak will lead to a lot of frustration on the toddler’s part. The parents of children who cannot speak for one reason or another often choose to teach their children sign language. This has been said to reduce frustration [1,2], although are very few formally reported sources. If your toddler is unable to communicate with her caretakers, this will be the cause of many tantrums. Since your toddlers also possesses powers, those tantrums could turn deadly in a moment’s time. 

At the bare minimum, the older characters will need to help feed her, dress her, make sure she does not seriously injure herself, and provide social interaction. The level of interaction the older characters have with the toddler is completely up to you. The best way for the characters to interact with the toddler is by acting as her caretakers and guiding her through this frustrating period of her life. 

xx Sarah

prompt 933

Give your character a physical gesture, a “tell,” that reveals something important about them. Why do they have this particular habit? Under what circumstances are they likely to do it?

(subplot 1/2) I’m stuck on one major subplot of my project I’m working on; have you ever heard of the Sentinel & Guide trope? Well I decided to rework it around my universe and I did it by having this group of empaths. Basically they need a partner to help them fight in battle. The Empath can do both defensive and offensive attacks, but their partner can do mostly offensive, but they don’t have powers like their Empath partner yet they’re still strong enough to take on a battle.

(subplot 2/2) With the S/G trope the Sentinel is the one who has the advanced senses and the Guide is just there to help them come back down, so they don’t do much- but I want to expand on my version but I don’t know how. The Empath is my version of the Sentinel but I don’t know what to turn my Guide into. I’m sorry, I read fanfic alot but this idea popped up in my head and I didn’t know who to ask, so if you can’t help that’s totally fine.

I must admit, I had to look up the Sentinel & Guide trope, but I think I know some ways to help you out. 

They way that I understood the Guide is that they are someone who has to “ground” the Sentinel. You say your Sentinel is an Empath, so how does being an Empath require someone to bring them back to reality? Are your characters just partners in battle, or is there any room for personal relationship in your story? A bad example of what I’m thinking of is L and Watari from Death Note. On one side you have a person who has near-magic levels of intelligence and analysis skills, and on the other you have his handler, who is somewhat of a fatherly figure and acts as a liason to deliver information to the “Sentinel” (I remember something about Watari being able to calm L down when he gets riled up, but I may be misremebering).  

Your Sentinel is an Empath, but your Guide can be a handler, or assistant, emissary, intermediary– the possibilities are endless. Even just using a thesaurus may give you inspiration if you’re looking to change the title. The direct opposite of an empath is a narcissist, although that word generally has negative connotations/is not exactly a superpower. Since empathy is the ability to share and understand feelings, the opposite would be one who has no ability to connect emotionally to others. If the Empath can’t stop themself from augmenting and aprehending the emotions of others, how does the Guide help to protect the rest of the team.

Who is the main character in this story? If you decide to focus on the Guide, I see no reason as to why they can’t have their own development outside of the Sentinel. If the Guides are capable of some supernatural ability, how does being a Guide affect their usage? There are a lot of directions in which you can go that allow the Guide to be so much more than ‘just’ a Guide. Just as a general warning, make sure your characters (and powers) have balanced strengths and weaknesses. That alone may prevent the Guide from being ‘just a Guide.’

I don’t want to force feed you ideas, but some plot points could be:

  • Guide becoming fed up with their position
    • Possibly want better assignment/different Sentinel
    • Guide not fully understanding why they have the role
      • Why Sentinels exist and the reason Guides are needed
  • Sentinel turning against Guide in moment of confusion
    • How Guide reacts to this (emotionally, physically…)
  • Guide feeling inadequate becaues of Sentinel
    • Guide finding their own self satisfaction/self worth
  • Guide dealing with the downside of their own powers

xx Sarah

How to Give Your Villain an Emotional Backstory That Isn’t Tragic

its-a-writer-thing:

In crafting a villain’s backstory, we often want the
origin to be as powerful as the character themselves. As Chris Colfe says, “A
villain is just a victim whose story hasn’t been told.”

Unfortunately, however, tragic backstories become tedious. Oh,
of course their parents were eaten alive in front of them, their home was foreclosed
on by a corrupt institution, the love of their life betrayed them, their
favorite TV show was canceled, and they couldn’t get the last scrap of mayonnaise
out of the jar. Someone get the fainting couch, quick.

At a certain point, it’s no longer a backstory – it’s a sob
story, which quickly transforms our empathy into pity, and finally into boredom.
We roll our eyes and wish the villain had kept the melodrama to themselves.

On the other side of that coin, having a character who
stomps on bunnies for no reason isn’t exactly relatable, and a well-rounded
character can’t just burst into existence one day fully formed. Everyone has a
history. 

So how can you give your villain a backstory that tugs on
readers’ heartstrings, without making it a sob story?

For this, we’re going to use Epic of Lilith as an example once again
(How
to Make Your Villain Domestic but Still Evil
), as well as Megamind briefly.
Some of these tips can also be applied to heroes, but we’ll stay
villain-centric for now.  

Keep reading

Hello ! I’m writing a novel where the MC and the Protagonist are two different characters. In regard to that, do you have some advices on how to plot the story ? Is it any different than usual ? (knowing that the MC isn’t just a passive observant and is trying to be involved in the protagonist’s plotline while still having her own subplot. She just doesn’t drive the main story)

Your protagonist is the character who grows the most over the course of your story. While they are generally the same character as the main character, they don’t need to be. This might be a bit confusing to write at the beginning, but it is not completely unheard of. I would argue that in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter is the main character while Neville Longbottom is the protagonist. I admit, it’s a bit of a stretch, but it gives a clear example of what I’m trying to describe. 

Your plot can be anything you wish, to be quite honest. Having two different characters for the protagonist and MC will not make or break different plot types. The protagonist could be the main character’s enemy (making your main character an antagonist), or someone the main characters mentors to grow– the possibilities are endless. Just make sure you give the necessary amount of time to your protagonist, because if she isn’t growing, then she isn’t a protagonist. 

For something like this, I would recommend against using multiple points of view when writing, because then your protagonist will become a main character, and then all of the hard work you’ve put in to build up a protagonist without her being a main character will be for nought. 

I wish I could be more helpful, but it isn’t all that different from writing a typical MC/protagonist combo. Writing with this cast structure is a really good exercise for anyone who is looking to test their character development skills. It can be much harder than it sounds. Good luck, and happy writing!

xx Sarah