Day 8 of writing my novel in public
I’ve started something scary here on Medium. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.
If you want to follow the journey from the start, go here.
If you missed yesterday’s, you can find it here.
Day 8 — Ally
So yesterday I wrote a scene, and have been fretting about it since. So much of what I wrote was garbage and I know it needs a huge amount of work before it might be useable. But I wrote a scene. That’s the important thing. I have put fingers to keyboard and have something to show for it. Celebrate the small wins.
Today I’m going to add a new character into the mix. I have a main character and an antagonist, but now I need someone who will help the main character to change — an ally.
First, I’ll look at the ally characters in my two guidebooks that I’m using to help write my novel.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Edmund is the main character who changes from being selfish and power-hungry to risking his life for the others and being a fair judge. The character that makes him see things differently and change is Aslan. He sacrifices himself to save Edmund and has a secret conversation with him. Afterwards Edmund’s behaviour changes. He fights alongside Peter against the White Witch, and disarms her so that Aslan defeats her. He becomes a quiet man, great in council and judgement.
The character that changes Ben is Granny. At the start of the story, Ben sees his Granny as old and irrelevant. He lies to get his way with his parents and suspects his Granny when he finds jewels in her kitchen. Instead of asking her about them, he follows her. Rather than being honest with his parents about his interest in plumbing and his dislike of ballroom dancing, he pretends he wants to dance. After going on the adventure with his Granny and then dealing with her death, he reconciles with his parents and owns his interest in plumbing. By the end he remembers his Granny fondly and is more likely to see the best in people.
Big 5 Model
In order to characterise the ally character, I’m going to look at the Big 5 Model of personality. Using the Big 5 psychological assessment of personality to create characters is based on The Science of Writing Characters by Kira-Anne Pelican (my affiliated link to the book is here).
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
I’ve identified Aslan as the ally character. Going through the 30 (six in each of the Big 5 categories) facets of personality, I’ll pick out three which I think particularly characterise Aslan.
Aslan is altruistic, tender-minded and assertive.
Aslan contrasts with Edmund at the start of the novel because Edmund is selfish and disregards his siblings’ feelings. They are both assertive.
I’ve identified Granny as the ally character. From the 30 facets of personality, I’ll choose three which I think particularly characterise Granny.
Granny is excitement-seeking, warm and imaginative.
Granny contrasts with Ben at the beginning of the novel because Ben starts more reserved and practical. They are both excitement-seeking.
My ally character
I’m going to run through the Big 5 thirty facets of personality and pick out 3 for Charlie, my main character.
At the start of my book, Charlie is suspicious, tricky and open-minded.
Now I want to contrast a couple of these with my ally character.
My ally character is open-minded, trusting and straightforward.
She contrasts with Charlie at the beginning of the novel because Charlie is suspicious and tricky. They are both open-minded.
Okay, so I need to know who this ally character is to Charlie. I’m going to do a timed 5 minutes on who she is.
I feel she is Charlie’s younger sister. That fits with her being trusting and straightforward. She is in awe of Charlie and wants to spend as much time as she can with him, but he doesn’t have much time for her at the start. He sees her as getting under his feet and in his way. Charlie has to play a part of the parenting role towards her, which exacerbates his resentment. Maybe just their dad is bringing them up, and he relies on Charlie to look after his sister. What name for her? Maybe Sandy — she is Sandy Quick. Sort of like quicksand in reverse. She is dependable and trusting and straightforward.
Great, so I have Sandy Quick as the ally. She is Charlie’s little sister, maybe 9 years old? Also, we have their dad. Maybe he connects to Miasmus somehow. Miasmus is out for revenge against someone who mocked him as a child. What if that person is Charlie’s dad? That would tie everything back and make it personal between Miasmus and Charlie.
Day 8 and I have identified the ally in my story, Sandy Quick, Charlie’s 9-year-old sister. She is open-minded, trusting and straightforward and will be the bane of Charlie’s life, always wanting to hang out with him. When Charlie is trying to be clever and tricky, she will spoil things for him. I also have their dad as another character, one who ties back with Miasmus and his revenge plot.
Tomorrow I will look at the antagonist Miasmus’ plan, and the story from his point of view.
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If you want to try the process with me and write your own novel, I’d love to have you join me on this journey. Put in the comments on how you went with this step.