Check Names and Character Arcs.

Robin Hood statue in Nottingham

Robin Hood statue in Nottingham (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My protagonists and antagonists have been in place before I wrote the first words for my novel, Chasing The Will. They appeared out of thin air during the planning stage. Alas, many other characters make appearances through the novel with some joining in now and again, with some just taking a passing fancy to a line or two while others reappear like old pencils, scattered throughout the house.

Rather than writing in Final Draft screenplay software, I’ve used Microsoft Word for my novel. I’ve written it as one continuous document rather than separate folders for chapters. I don’t use a full outlining software programme for novel writing. I might one day, but it’s so difficult knowing which one is right without choosing to try them all. I don’t believe I can take a month off just to try potential software.

My master-plan is using sticky notes software to provide me with lists for characters, locations and the general story template. At any time I can call up any of the important lists at a click of the toolbar icon. They’re there, all the time, lurking; waiting to be exposed. More importantly, they’re available so I can remember how to spell their names with both the same letters and in the same order each time I use them.

Occasionally I need to see if I’m still in the right town and on the right continent. Nipping out for a coffee blurs the mind. I wouldn’t want Times Square to end up in Robin Hood’s Nottingham. The search and replace facility within Microsoft Word has proved most useful. It’s easy to find each time a character is mentioned and see whether they talk with the same character dialogue style, follow the necessary character arc and don’t change from male to female in the proceeding ten chapters.

If I can talk myself back into Final Draft software it’ll automatically show me everything performed by one individual character so I can follow their line of discussion without interference. This check ensures that they don’t use the same lines too often or repeat themselves with vital plot information. I do so detest those novels I read where it’s obvious a character has changed so much without following a change arc. Most of us don’t change overnight. Leopards and spots; which reminds me to remove some of the cliché’s one of my protagonists uses too often.

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