What makes a great book for you?
For me, it’s a cast of colourful, believable characters that I come to think of as friends.
The first time I started writing a novel I did very little preparation work on my characters – I was itching to get on with the story and I had a basic idea of what my main characters were like, so what could go wrong?
What went wrong was that, because my characters were only sketchy outlines in my mind, that’s how they appeared on the page.
And because I hadn’t taken the time to really get to know who they were, I didn’t know how they’d truly react in the situations I put them in.
So the writing of the book became very stop start and the actions of the characters inconsistent and unbelievable.
Thankfully, I realised what was wrong and instead of ploughing on regardless, I went back to the drawing board – or rather, the character board.
I decided to spend some time really visualising my characters and I trawled through magazines and websites, looking for images that related to them. Photos of people who looked how I imagined the character to look. And pictures of objects, outfits, phrases and places that I related to them.
And, as I pinned these images to a noticeboard on my wall, my characters finally started coming to life. Actually being able to see them and their world helped them become solid and three-dimensional, rather than sketchy outlines.
Once my character board was complete I sat in front of it with a notebook and jotted down any thoughts or ideas the images gave me for the characters and the plot.
And it was amazing just how many ideas I got.
From that moment on, I’ve always created character boards before I start writing a book.
My new novel, The Moonlight Dreamers, has just come out and it features four very different main characters.
Oscar Wilde fan Amber is an avid blogger and loves vintage clothes and records. Kind-hearted, hopeless romantic Maali is devoted to her Hindu faith and dreams of being able to talk to boys. New Yorker Rose is the daughter of famous and divorced parents and she dreams of owning a Harley Davidson and becoming a patissier. And free-spirit Sky lives on a houseboat with her yoga-teaching dad and dreams of finding the confidence to compete in poetry slams.
You can find character boards for all of them here. Simply click on the character’s name and scroll down the page.
You will see images of clothes and objects and quotes and places that are all in some way linked to the character.
Hopefully by looking at each board, you’ll begin to get a feel for the character and see how creating character boards of your own will help bring your own writing to life.
You can create physical boards in your office / home or you can create them online on Pinterest.
They’re a lot of fun to make and they’ll make the writing of your story so much easier … and the reading of your story so much more rewarding.
The Moonlight Dreamers is out now
… and Amazon have made it their YA Book of the Month.
Find out more and order a copy here.