You’ve (finally) decided to write your novel. You’ve written ten or 100 pages, and it’s painful, because your characters refuse to come alive. You feel like a puppet master, jerking strings on lumps of wood.
I’ve had that happen on a couple of novels, and it wasn’t pleasant.
Marjory, my editor at the time, suggested that I create character journals. Why not let my story people speak for themselves?
Why is writing your novel so challenging?
If you don’t know your characters, writing your novel will be an ongoing, horrid struggle. Character journals end the struggle.
When you create a character’s journal, create it right within the flow of your novel. (You can delete it later, in revision.)
I suggest that the first journal you create is for your lead character; your lead character is usually the primary point of view character.
Write, using the first person — “I”.
Kick off the journal by asking your lead a question:
* “Tell me about your childhood…”
* “What did you do when you stumbled upon the corpse on the beach?”
* “Why do you hate Jamie?”
Then, simply write, as the character. Write as quickly as you can, without censoring. Allow the character to say anything she/ he wants.
As we’ve said, write the journal within your novel. You’re writing a first draft. In your second draft, you can remove the character journals if you wish. However, you may find that you keep much of the material, as scene sequels.
I’m not a fan of creating character dossiers before you write your novel. I tend to forget what was in the dossiers, because I never go back to reread them, so for me writing them is a waste of time.
After you complete the first draft of your book, you can create character dossiers so a character doesn’t suddenly change eye color, or even personality, without a clear reason for the personality change.
Character journals bring your novel to life. Try writing a journal for one or two of your characters today.
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Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.
If you’re a new author, a serial serves to introduce you to readers. A reader may not be willing to commit to a novel by a new author, but be willing to read an episode of a serial.More info →
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.More info →
Resources to build your writing career
Revised: July 11, 2019
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