Create Fantastic Characters for the NaNoWriMo Challenge

Are you taking the NaNoWriMo challenge? Then you need to have good characters – and we can help.

Why Characters Matter So Much

Characters make every story worth reading. Without characters, your readers can’t relate to anyone and you can’t create a mental bond to draw people into your world for a time. Your beautiful settings fall flat, there’s no dialogue to enjoy, and there’s nothing that can happen.

Good characters rule the story – there’s no story without them.

In fact, characters not only make your story worth reading, they make your story rock. They guide you through plot twists you never thought possible and charm you and your readers into falling in love. Characters prove insightful, cause chaos, and make us want to be them for a while.

The problem is that many writers don’t know how to create good, believable characters. They focus on grammar or outlines, they get caught up in scene development, and they completely neglect proper character creation and development.

Making a Big Deal Look Easy

If you’re going to enter NaNoWriMo, you need a damned good character leading the way. NaNoWriMo gives writers that real kick in the pants to get that novel or story finally going.

The challenge is a big one: One month; 50,000 words. That’s a lot of writing – or is it?

With a good character leading the way, you can laugh in the face of the NaNoWriMo challenge. Toss the plotline. Forget the pre-planned story. Throw all your milestones out the window.

Write, damn it. Write from the heart. Let your character go and let him lead you through adventures galore.

Create a character that lives and breathes on your pages, and you’ll burn through NaNoWriMo in no time at all. When you release your imagination into a good character, that individual comes alive and carries you easily through scenes, chapters and full stories.

We know. We’ve written whole series of novels thanks to beloved characters that rule their world.

Need a Head Start?

With a good character in your grasp, you can write anything – a whole chapter around a Post-It note, even. Where does the character find it? What does it say? How does it make him or her feel? What happens next? The character’s life is changed forever by that little yellow scrap… tell the story. Let the words flow.

It’s that easy – but you have to build a solid character to take you places you’ve never been. You have to know the person inside and out. You need to live in his skin, slip into her mind, walk in his shoes. You need to know what music he likes or what foods she hates.

You need to know your character as intimately as you know yourself.

Face NaNoWriMo and come through it victorious, thanks to a solid supporting cast of believable characters that come alive. Our ebook guide, How to Create a Believable Character, is built for a challenge.

Originally written for our creative writing forum, How to Create a Believable Character had too much potential to stay tucked away. We decided to bring it here where it could help even more writers develop characters that leaped off the pages.

How to Create a Believable Character is perfect for fiction writers, novelists, modern-day authors. Packed with worksheets, tips and pertinent questions to help you develop characters that come alive, How to Create a Believable Character prepares you to face any story challenge and breathe vivid life into your writing.

Who knows where your characters might lead you?

Click here to get your copy of How to Create a Believable Character for a special November price of $11.99 – and get ready to kick some NaNoWriMo butt.

Want to learn more about this ebook? Just click here.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. I think I will. Writing characters is my biggest weakness. I’m doing NanoWrimo, and I have an idea to run with, but my characters, I’m sure, will be weak sauce.

    Writer Dads last blog post..My Feet Never Touched the Bahamas, but My Voice Found Paradise.

  2. Wow! This is a butt slapping eye opener! I have been participating in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, but have always been focusing on plot, scenes etc. I have gone back to those stories after reading this article, and yes, my characters were two dimensional, flaky stooges with all the personality of a beer soaked drink coaster…they sucked!

    This post has inspired me to approach this year’s task with a whole new perspective. I actually feel SO energised. Thanks Guys!

    Devans last blog post..Quicken online is now FREE!

  3. Hooray! It’s almost NaNoWriMo time! James, are you MWP gents doing it?

    I haven’t signed up yet, but two of my best friends have and I’m going to do it with them. We’re going to kick each other’s asses to make sure that we stay on target for the month. It’s gonna be great! I did it for the first time two years ago and ended up with a completed manuscript for the first time since high school.

    Characters and dialogue are the two things that I actually know how to do…you guys wouldn’t happen to have an ebook that talks about emotion and description, would you? 😀

    Michelles last blog post..The Barenaked Archives: The Skeleton Key

  4. Urban Panther says:

    I have already started working my way through this great MwP’s book. I have never developed a character in my life before, and she is already becoming a ‘real’ person. The book provides you with all the questions you need to ask yourself about your character. Even if you have developed characters before, I am sure there are questions in there you haven’t thought about. Buy the book! Seriously!

    Disclaimer: no, the MwP Boyz have not paid me, bribed me, nor otherwise coerced me into this endorsement. These thoughts are truly the sole creation of the Urban Panther.

    Urban Panthers last blog post..Theme Fiction Friday – In the mirror

  5. I may just do NaNoWriMo yet …

    Dave Navarros last blog post..The Poverty Snowball: What Is Your Life Worth?

  6. Excellent idea, James. I used the ebook for Escaping Reality, but I didn’t even THINK about using it for NaNo. Very cool.

    And yeah… I think I’m going to do it this year.

  7. I was thinking about doing NaNoWriMo, but….well, I just don’t know. To be honest, I’m kind of scared. Maybe I’ll go take your advice and develop a character…

    Who here has experience with NaNoWriMo? Is it as scary as it sounds?

  8. While this is my first year for NaNoWriMo, I’ve written two novels already and I can tell you that James is right on target. To blast through 50K words in 30 days (my novels were each drafted in less than 6 weeks), you need something to drive you forward and that “thing” needs to be a character. If you don’t have a character you care about, you won’t spend the time necessary to put out no fewer than 1,667 words a day.

    Great post, James!

    P.S. Anyone here interesting in buddying up for NaNo? I’m hownottowrite over there. 🙂

    Jamie Grove – How Not To Writes last blog post..The Journey of Discovery

  9. I love character building and development. When I first got into writing fiction and creative writing gaming, I was description focused. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that everything – everything – that makes a good story is in the heart of a character. When you have a character you love to write, you can do anything.

    SushiDay said it best once when she said, “I could no more abandon my character than I could abandon a cherished friend.” (Or something like that.) Reaching that point of intimacy… well, damn. I could burn through three NaNoWriMos in a row.

    (But I won’t. I probably write half of one in a day already as it is.)

  10. Character building is one of my favorite parts of the process, but I do find that I often leave out physical details the first time around. I have to edit them in after the first draft in many cases. I get so wrapped up in their experiences, and I know what they look like. I just forget that not everyone else has seen them standing over their shoulder in the mirror. Great post. I came over here from a prompt on twitter and I’m glad I did.

    Jenny Beanss last blog post..M. Night Syamalan’s The Happening

  11. As someone who’s “won” NaNoWriMo, I’d say it can be done without much plot but not without strong characters. If anything, I went slightly OTT on the characters, but writing about people who are interesting and fun to be around (or wonderfully evil) makes cranking out those 1,667 words/day a lot easier.

    I’ve also won a couple of short story competitions with judges commenting that the strength of the characterisation made up for the lack of plot. Not sure if that’s a sort of damning with faint praise, but it does suggest that good characters can let you brush aside other flaws…

    Ali Hale – Alpha Students last blog post..Alcohol and internet connections don’t mix

  12. I have two possible characters in mind: a French-Canadian guitar-playing freelance writer and his bow-hunting graphic artist partner, who are helped by a third, secret partner who only communicates by speakerphone: his name… is Charlie.

    What do you think? Is there potential here? 🙂

    Mark Dykemans last blog post..Flattery by Imitation presents condensed Techcrunch by Mike Arrington

  13. @ Mark – Rock on. It’s a match made in heaven. 😉

  14. @Mark: Damn. We’ve just turned into a really bad 70’s cop show. I swear, if anyone calls me Kate Jackson I’ll smack’em.

  15. @ Harry – Dude. Love the hair. Suits you. Really.

  16. @Harry – wasn’t there a 70s detective/police show called MacLeod? 🙂

    Mark Dykemans last blog post..Flattery by Imitation presents condensed Techcrunch by Mike Arrington

  17. @James: Thanks, Farrah.

  18. @Mark: Yeah, I think there was. They ran it with Columbo and MacMillan and Wife. I think MacLeod ran around on horseback or something. Cowboy cop in the Big City kind of thing

  19. Brian Killian says:

    It’s not always true that characters are the heart of good fiction. Some kinds of fiction derive almost all their charm and appeal to other factors, to what might be called the mood, or atmosphere.

    This seems to be the case in mythopoeic stories where people read them not so much for the characters, but for enchantment, for the ecstatic feelings the words produce. Or think of supernatural horror stories like H.P. Lovecraft, where the characters don’t seem to be the primary focus.

  20. Yay. A post about Nanowrimo! I’ve been wondering if any of you did this crazy thing in November. This will be my sixth year. I’m writergypsie on the forums there and spend most of my time on the urinal cake thread in Off Topic.

    I’m not doing any pre-planning this year, since I seem to be bogged down in minutiae when I do. Instead, I’m flying by the seat of my pants like I did the first year. How it goes is definitely up to my characters. The rest is incidental.

    Marys last blog post..Affirmations and Poverty

  21. Doing my first Nano ~ found you on Twitter…So glad. What a great source to help me feel unstuck and improve my writing. Thanks!

    Maybe I’ll finally publish a book and get featured on my own show!

    Carrie, Words To Mouths last blog post..Safe School Ambassadors: Harnessing Student Power to Stop Bullying and Violence, John Linney

  22. Wow…when did you guys redesign the site? To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of white on black. I’m actually quite haunted by it…

    …great articles though! Trying to catch up!


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