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NANOWRIMO - Character Assessment - Day 2 of Plotter Book-in-a-Month

CHARACTER - Day 2 of National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo).

This is a PLOTTER approach to a book in a month. There are worldbuild approaches, character depth approaches, and research approaches. Those are all wonderful and worthy. This particular approach, though, is all about plotting. We'll be building out our story like a home.

  1. Ideal and Detail Week - build the framework

  2. Bulk and Believe Week - add depth, like the drywall around your framework

  3. Sequence and Style Week - Design and make the story your own with your voice and details

  4. Transition and Take Apart Week - Pull out what needs to go and make sure the elements are joined where they need to be

  5. Format and Finalize Week - "Decorate" and better the book you've written

Character Assessment

Your first job as you create your protagonist, hero, or central character is to kill the "3 P-Problems with People" that are common with writers before they have developed their craft.

  • Paperdoll

Some writers go straight to the physical description of their characters. Do take some time to do this for your own sake, but there is a possibility that you may not ever share that information with your reader. Your reader may paint his or her own picture if a physical description is never provided.

  • P.O.W.

Many countries' militaries teach that, when a soldier becomes a prisoner of war, or P.O.W., it is his or her duty to share only name, rank, and social (or serial number). As writers, the equivalent is when all that is shared about a character is his or her logistical and demographic information. Once more, this alone does not make your character, but consider this information for your protagonist. Name, age, job, role within a family or community, nationality, race, gender, and so on. What are the "stats" on your protagonist

  • Perfection

The next way that developing writers can be weak is by creating flawless perfect heroes and unredeemable perfectly evil villains. This black and white approach to a story's central characters misses the nuance of emotion, depth of personality, origins, and . . . really . . . essence of our characters. Let' break this P-problem of people by defining the faults and flaws of your protagonist. Make your character a bit more real and relatable by considering the different ways he or she could fail. And only now are you starting to get somewhere!

  • Date Your Character

Once you've broken down the 3 P-Problems of People, you're ready to truly dig in on who your protagonist is. Imagine you are on a date with your character. Okay, this isn't like a first date. All you likely got from that first date and even the second was some of that paperdoll and P.O.W. information. This is at least a third date. You really want to know what makes this person, this character, tick.


  1. Keeping with the (dating) theme, look at games, books, and sets of cards filled with “Getting to Know You” questions and activities. (Or find them online.) Go through these AS your character and take notes about his/her/its/their responses. You may discover a lot of fun things to work into your manuscript!

  2. Consider probing for the answers to a few of these questions on your "date:"

  • Current location of character and where character was raised.

  • Current family and family history (family members, quality of relationships, positive and negative feelings toward your character and from your character toward others, etc.)

  • Closest friends, allies, colleagues, neighbors, etc. (Also, what do THEY think of your character? What are THEY like?)

  • Enemies, rivals, or other antagonistic characters . . . WHY are they the “villains?”

  • Character’s attitude toward religion (specify) and life philosophy (optimist, realist, idealist, pessimist)?

  • Character’s ambitions? Road blocks (both mental and physical)?

  • Character’s opinion of self and opinions of others about him/her/it/them?

  • Does your character have a bad temper? A great sense of humor? Education? Health? Physical Fitness? Rest? Nourishment?

  • What does your character do in free time? Hobbies? Sports? Interests?

  • Tell us about your characters dreams. Fears? Talents? Most embarrassing moment? Proudest moment? Worst memory? Best memory?

  • What are your character’s likes and dislikes (color, food, season, number, movie, music, etc.) and are there reasons for these?

    • How does your character treat others?

    • Will readers love, hate, or feel ambivalent toward your character and why?

    • What will bring out your character’s BEST? Your character’s WORST? What is the “best” and “worst”?

    • The driving force . . . What is the #1 thing you want your readers to know about your character?

HOMEWORK DAY 2 - Spend no less than 15 to 30 minutes detailing your character.

Yours in writing,


Day 0 - Preptober - Setting Up Your Ideal Writing Space

Day 1 - NaNoWriMo - Writing From Art

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