Tag Archives: Developing Characters

Write A Novel with Me – Innocent Suspects Update

Write a Novel with Me – Update

 I am posting so that you know I am still here.  I have been struggling with balancing work and writing, again.  I have to confess that I have also been struggling with this step – developing the innocent suspects. 

 I have decided that maybe I chose my villain a little prematurely.  And because, though I want to share the experience of writing this novel, I may not want to share all of the details because when this master of the mystery genre is completed, I want all of my followers to run to the bookstore and buy it.

 I am still in the middle of this step but I do want to share what I have been doing.  I have also been reading a few how to write books, like Phyllis A. Whitney’s ‘Guide to Fiction Writing’ as well as ‘Bang the Keys’ by Jill Dearman.  One thing I have decided to do is use a book journal.  I am writing down all of my ideas as I go so that I don’t lose them.  That was an idea I picked up from ‘Guide to Fiction’.  I don’t normally journal but I rather liked this idea.

 As far as the innocent suspects, my character Ben, the English professor is now one of those suspects instead of my villain.  I think I’ve come up with a much more interesting villain.  Someone the reader can really fear.  I’ve also discovered that for me to continue developing characters, I had to develop more of my story and that is what has been taking me so long.  It feels like a puzzle that is missing a few pieces and it is driving me crazy.  So I had to step back for a day or two to let it all settle.  While I wasn’t obsessing about it, an exceptional idea came to me.

 Because this is a mystery, that part I can’t share but I can share the process I used to come up with it. I needed a villain who had a grudge against my protagonist, so I devised different scenarios.  Maybe the protagonist was involved with a group of friends who accidentally killed someone after drinking, maybe when the protagonist was a teenager, she was babysitting a child who was kidnapped and later murdered, or at least a bloody garment was found indicating a murder.  Maybe the protagonist was kidnapped along with another child, she escaped but the other child was murdered.  Those are a few ideas that I came up with while I played the what if game.

 Feel free to share some of your ideas with me but don’t tell me what you actually chose to use for your story because I want to be surprised when I read your published story too.

 I plan to post again, this weekend after I have more thoroughly developed the other innocent suspects.  Just know that one of those suspects is the real murderer. 

 I do look forward to hearing from you.  Let me know what is working for you and maybe what isn’t, maybe I can make some suggestions to help you. 

 In the meantime, keep writing.


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Posted by on August 12, 2009 in Developing a Story, Write a Novel


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Write a Novel Step 5 Victims and Villain

Since my last post, I have been trying to decide who my villain was so that I could develop him/her.  It has been difficult because I had no clue as to his/her identity.  All I knew was what I wanted my villain to do. So in the process I lost a victim and gained a villain.  In my last post, I had a professor who I intended to be my second victim.  He had so many traits that I liked, I couldn’t just kill him off, and so he has become my villain.  I guess I wanted to spend more time with him.


In this whole process, I have also decided to change his last name.  After working with him, he felt more like a Schroeder than a Hollingsworth.  I also changed the one victim’s name from Morton to Chambers.  Don’t know why, just felt compelled to change them.


I had originally cast the victim – Bradley as someone who was in advertising.  He is now a lawyer.


The villain is Ben Schroeder, an English teacher at a community college who likes to cross-dress.  He is 38 years old, 5’10” and weighs a slight 160.  He appears effeminate which helps because it enables him to appear as a woman better.  He is an only-child who witnessed his mother and aunt as they killed his father.  Their story was that he left them when Ben was very young. Ben was so young that he isn’t sure about what he saw.  He thinks of it as a bad dream.  His mother and aunt instilled in him that women were better than men and that is why he feels need to dress like a woman, even though it is secretly. His biggest fear is that the college will find out his secret and he could lose his job.  He is jealous of authors who have succeeded where he has failed.  He knows Rachel from when she was in college. He saw her talent and envied her abilities.  He tried to become close to her but she wasn’t interested. He still holds a grudge against her for that and now that she has become a published author and he has failed, his jealousy is even fiercer.

Bradley, who is Rachel’s fiancé is a cheater, always has been, always will be.  Ben has been following Rachel’s career ever since she shunned him while she was in college.  Haven’t worked out all of the details as to his rage but he is so jealous of Rachel, he not only wants her career, he wants her life.  He finds out about her engagement and decides to meet her fiancé.  One night while out drinking, he meets Ben in his female persona and picks him up. Bradley passes out before anything goes too far. In Ben’s sick twisted mind, he decides that if he can’t have Bradley, than Rachel can’t either and he plans to kill him and starts his path to destroy Rachel.


I have definitely developed more of my story while creating my characters. 

Nothing is set in stone at this time, so don’t be surprised if things change along the way.

Over the next few days, I will be developing more of my characters, specifically the innocent suspects. 


I am enjoying the experience, so far.  Though it is fun, it is work.  Hopefully I can keep piecing the puzzle together in a logical and entertaining way. 


How is your story going?  Are you creating well-rounded characters or do they feel flat?  If so, I would suggest getting deeper into their goals and motivations.


Until next time,




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Want to Write A Novel- Developing the Protagonist

By blogging about this topic, I do not intend to teach anyone how to write a novel.  There are plenty of classes, by qualified teachers, you can attend and of course, you can read every single book about writing a novel you can get your hands on, like me.

 I am following a book on how to write a mystery – chapter-by-chapter – step- by- step.  The last few days, I spent developing my sleuth.  She is a romance writer whose career is failing.  Her publisher has said they don’t plan to offer her another contract.  Her agent is encouraging her to complete a novel she seems to be struggling with trying to get finished.  In the meantime, her fiancé dies in the arms of another woman.

 My character’s name is Rachel Miller/Rachel St. James.  Her motivation is to continue her writing career even though she is feeling blocked with the current project.  Now she is also mad and hurt because Bradley, her fiancé is now dead and had obviously been cheating on her before he died.  I do know that Bradley’s death will not be of natural causes, as everyone initially assumes and that Rachel will become a suspect in his murder.  That is why she is the sleuth.  She has to solve the mystery as to who killed Bradley and is it the same person who eventually starts threatening her.  She is early 30’s and I picture Sandra Bullock as I am writing the story.

 On another note about naming the character, the book I’m using suggested you use a list of eight qualities this character has and then pick five first and last names that reflect those qualities.  The next step was to go to the internet and Google the names.  See how many people have that name.  If there are too many, maybe you should pick another name.  The only problem with doing this was that every name I chose was out there, a lot.  So in the end, I chose a name that I liked and thought I wouldn’t get tired of writing down frequently.  If you have any suggestions about naming characters, check in and let me know how you do it.

 That is about all I can share with you so far about this character.

 Now I am on to developing the crime and victim’s secrets.

 Another note about your premise, from my last post, if you write it tightly enough, you could use it later for an elevator pitch.  If you don’t know what an elevator pitch is, let me know and I will explain.

 So, to recap, we have an idea that we developed into a premise and we have created a protagonist (for me, a sleuth), and we will be developing other characters.  If you are writing a mystery like me, you will be working on your crime, victims and their secrets.  If you are working on another genre, now would be a good time to develop other characters.

 I will catch up with you again after this step.

 Keep checking in frequently, I will be adding author interviews to this site.  Come back and meet Carla Cassidy soon.

 In the meantime, keep writing and have some fun.



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