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Character Book

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Delving into my story felt awesome. I began to feel that what I was writing had some small purpose. There was a little bit of character development happening and there seemed to be a story forming from the people that were popping up on the page. I was trying to be conscious of the fact that I knew what was happening on the page but did the reader? Was I was explaining it correctly? Or maybe worse, was I mansplaining?

I didn't want to be influenced too much from other media so I went into writing my book a little bit blind so I could try and keep my novel original. Of course I am only human and always have the movie The Lost Boys in my head, especially the sound track. Growing up with my sister we constantly have this movie on loop on something called VHS.

I had listened to podcasts where authors explained that they wrote a story board and had a beginning, middle and a rough idea of an ending. I had no such thing. I found that so far I am not able to do that. Characters that I set out to be one way tend to turn out differently when I put them on to the page. As this was happening it would flip the script of the story. I tried to go with the flow and adapt to what was happening. After finishing a chapter at the start of this process I would reread what was on the page. The first job was to get rid of the red lines of the many misspelled words that jump off the page. When getting to chapter eight I stopped this process which for me was a mistake. I wanted to write and get my ideas onto the page as quick as possible. Going back to chapter's that I had written days or weeks ago made it very hard to maintain a coherent story.

Reading what I wrote and trying to be objective was a strange experience. There are lots of lessons which I took from this but the one that stood out most of all was continuity. Everything that I wrote was off the cuff. I wrote nothing down, I just steamed ahead like a train with no track.

For example in chapter one Nathan, one of the character's of the book, doesn't like the smell or taste of coffee but by chapter ten in his own house his most prized possession is a coffee machine. That's when I started my character book.

I opened the laptop with a pencil and a note pad. Going through page after page I added information about each person. Their likes and dislikes, their background. Everything about each person. At first I thought that it would be about a paragraph for each character and that would be all, but it grew and grew. The more information I added, the more they became real to me. I started with when and where they were born. Their education and where they studied. It kept on growing. Each character whether small or big had their own little story.

I didn't stop their either. Even side characters got there own page. I cant believe that I didn't start this sooner. After I caught up and started writing my book again I found that all this new information I had was vital to making the world real. I could add relevant information into the story arch if needed. The character book that is pictured above is now my crutch. I am always adding to this book which helps me.

Even after finishing my first novel, I still have no idea what I am doing but most importantly I am enjoying it. Of course there are times when I find it frustrating. These moments are normally when my children are asking me for bottles of water that are right next to them or they are trying to strangle each other over who's turns it is to have a shower first.

After finishing chemo I felt very lost in myself and in life. Trying to be a good dad and husband again, to get back to normality, what ever that is, was hard. I am not going to say writing made all this go away but it did and has helped a lot. Talking to friends, family and a psychologist helped me regain focus. I lost a lot of my focus but I have slowly regained that and now am working back in the easy going life of a chef again. I thought that I would watch tv, or play games during treatment but writing characters that have little bits of me in them helped me get through this and I will be forever grateful for that as corny as that sounds. And hopefully the book is also good. 😊

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