Character Maps

I have just started writing a new book and thought I would share a little of my thinking process.

I’m one of those people with tons of ideas floating around in my head.  You would think I could just sit down and easily write out a story with so much info swarming in there.  Not so much.  

That is NOT how it works for me.  With so many ideas, if I just sit down and write, I can’t stay focused.  I run in a thousand directions and end up with a mangled mess.

What do I do?  I create a map.  When I first think of a character, I let him/her just bounce around in my head for a while.  I jot notes in my journal (usually a separate journal for that particular book to keep me focused) of anything about my character: age, favorite foods, styles–anything and I mean ANYTHING that comes to mind.

Then I look through magazines, newspapers, and other places to FIND my character.  I already have an idea, but for the visual person that I am, I need a concrete picture to work with.  Sometimes this means cutting my models apart and pasting them back together in a way that fits my particular character.

I add other objects, words, even scenic images, to my character map.  Yes, this can be time-consuming, but for me, it is well worth it.  It keeps me focused, so by the time I sit down to write my story, I KNOW my character and most important, WHERE MY CHARACTER IS GOING.  I use my character map as a snapshot of memories, pulling from it throughout my story.  That way, I’m less likely to LOSE my character off in space somewhere (unless of course, I’m writing some sci-fi or a story about a trip to the moon).

I think this method could also work for those WITHOUT a single idea.  Flipping through a magazine just for the images could be a great starting point. 

Find a picture of a model and think about his/her story based on the setting or the style of clothes he/she is wearing.  Give your model a name and begin asking all sorts of questions, jotting down your thoughts in your journal.


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