When I first started writing I had no idea what character mapping was. I worked in banking at the time and was helping a literary agent from the US with her banking. She mentioned character mapping and so I didn’t sound like a total loser, I just nodded and let the person in the know do the talking. It made sense to me after the conversation and so, I developed my own way.
The first thing I did was to buy myself a note pad with built in dividers. I figured if I was going to map the characters from one of my books I may as well do all of them. This is no easy task if you’ve already began writing and your well and truly into your fifth or sixth eBook of one series and you have individual eBooks as well. So I had to go back through them all and rediscover my characters. This is a good thing to do anyway as it gives you the opportunity to make little changes or fix sentences that don’t quite mesh with the rest of the book. You can always upload latest versions of your work. Every writer evolves and your strength is recognising this and running with it.
For each character create a page in the book. By the way, you can do this on a computer, but I find flipping from screen to screen often breaks momentum. If you have an open book beside you, all you need to do is glance at it or pick up a pen and add to it. Once you have your character page, you can list things like, date of birth or friends and family. In short, it’s a mind map into the imaginary world of your character so don’t be afraid to go nuts. You don’t have to use everything you put down, but if you start adding things that are irrelevant, it gets confusing, so stick to the facts.
I used write on post-its to define each character or different parts of the plot that were relevant to the story-line. Remember, The Hooper Mysteries have seven published eBooks and I’m currently working on the eighth. The post-its help me to find what I need in a hurry instead of rifling through pages of information.
There are other ways you can map your characters. Some writers make up big poster sized mind maps and stick them on the wall, but I find my way more compact and the books can be hidden away just in case there are surprises listed that you don’t want anyone to know about. Plus they’re more portable and can be carted around in a bag if the need arises. I guess a laptop or tablet would be more space saving, but I’m old school and this works very well for me.
When I created Bess, I wanted an ordinary girl with an extraordinary power, but someone who would stay grounded. As a woman who was once a teenager, I chose a girl as it’s easier for me to write in that way – I’m still evolving. I gave her a best friend who was almost the opposite as a contrast because we’re not all the same. I also supplied a younger brother for Bess as when you’re an older child, you tend to be more responsible. Bess is lucky enough to have two parents who are still together. They’re an average family and there’s nothing special about any of them. That’s the way I wanted it. Every time I added something to a story that I needed to remember without going back into the eBook content, I wrote it down. It’s as simple as that. I used different coloured pens so that things on the page jumped out at me, but a highlighter would do the same job. t’s up to you and you will develop your own style just as you have with your writing.
Remember, you are the creator of your own little world and your characters are like a family or your own personal puppets. You control them, so give them quirks. Recognise sayings or speech impediments they might have. Think about the people in your past who have made an impact on you and pattern characters after them. There are many different reasons for using past friends and enemies. Firstly, it’s easier to create a character from someone who exists. Secondly, you hold the power, so use it. The sky is the limit!