Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MC Plotting

When I write a story, whether or not I've gotten a plot yet or not, or just the idea of the general plan, my main character usually comes first.

No matter how great an idea is, as soon as I get a storyline in my head, the first thing I think is, "Now, who will be the person that gets to have this adventure?"

I have to establish whether the material is suitable for a boy, or a girl. (For now, he's a boy. ) Once that's settled, I can start getting the MC's features sorted.

I have to decide on overall features, first. Will the MC have brown hair, or blonde? Will he be a red-head? What origin will be demonstrated in build, features, skin colour? Spanish? German? Will the MC be a tow-head of Polish descent, or olive-skinned in the manner of Italians? Will the MC be short, stocky? Tall and lithe? Small but slender? Tall but thick like a bull?

Once overall look is established, I go in for the further detail. What happens when the MC gets angry? When he gets sad? Does he have thick, expressive eyebrows or thin emotionless ones? Does his mouth get line-tight under pressure, or does he chew on his lips? Does he use his hands to express himself? Is he voluble, or quiet? What signs does he portray to signify his mood?

Once I've got that all established, I go into conflict. What moves my MC? What drives him through the story? What catapults him into the plot, to make the story activate? Why does he react this way, or that?

Once I've asked all my questions, I've got my developed MC, complete with flaws and weaknesses and strengths, ready to make my story a reality.

What's even better is that, now with Alice Orr's helpful suggestions, I can even take him one step further and write his thoughts into a journal. Don't you love becoming your character?


  1. Yes. That's in answer to your question about becoming my characters. The problem is they don't much like it when I do and treat me rather badly.:-)

    I've been kicked out of so many scenes while those characters take off and do it their way. The nerve.

  2. LOL! I totally understand. Isn't that uppity of them?!

  3. I think my stories come in the same order as yours, beginning with a character. Then all it takes is an idea and the rest seems to flow from there. It's so interesting to read about other people's writing/plotting processes!

  4. Becoming my character is the most exciting part of writing for me. It's so much fun to create a character--though sometimes I swear they just introduce themselves to me.

  5. Wow, I'm impressed Cat. I find plotting, or outlining like this so overwhelming. I just start with a wisp of an idea of a character, throw him/her onto the page and let them develop as they tell me their story. Sometimes I absolutely love that process. But other times I wish I could wrap my head around preplotting.

  6. Oh, I do, very much. And it's both amusing and annoying when the characters start taking the plot in a direction that we, their rightful creators, didn't intend.

  7. Truly it is, William. I don't ever get too mad, though. I figure that the character knows what he's doing. I hope, anyhow!

    Inluv, I can't help BUT outline. I cannot get into a story if my setting is not perfect. That's how it is for me.

    Kelly, I agree! I've had that happen with a couple of my characters. It's almost frightening. :)


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