Last week, I mentioned I was trying to come up with an “entr’acte” to land between Give the Lady a Ride and The Final Ride. I didn’t have a clue what I’d write, I just knew I needed something to tie a 2011 release with a 2016 release and regenerate interest in a series I didn’t know would be a series in 2011.
So, with a totally blank mind, I turned to K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel—and it helps. But it would help far more if I did have an idea in mind. Which is caveat #1. Caveat #2 is that I don’t think like Katie does. I can’t follow her process in the order presented in her workbook. But that’s okay with her. She says in the book that we’re free to skip around. Good thing, too, or she’d appear in my dreams to fuss at me for doing exactly that.
Katie has questions and exercises in the workbook that help stimulate the ol’ brain cells and kick them in to creative gear, which does help when you don’t have an idea in mind. One began forming for me slowly last week, and I think I like it, but I still have to play around with it. The only thing I know for certain right now is that, as with The Final Ride, I’m going to have to bring in some new characters to provide the conflict.
But last Friday, instead of playing with the new characters, I played with my main characters: Marie Lambeau and Chance Davis, my secondary couple from Give the Lady a Ride. I took everything I knew about them from the first novel and jumped ahead in Katie’s workbook to the chapter called Personality Profiling. She missed the one based on where in the familial line-up a kid lands at birth–another one that can be helpful when developing a character’s personality–but she hit the other big ones. You can see them listed and explained in her Outlining Your Novel, or find them online: The Four Temperaments, Myers & Briggs Type Indicator, and Enneagram Personality Type.
I made a chart, using what I already know about each character–which, I’m ashamed to admit–isn’t really all that much. I never did personality profiles on them, never developed their bios, because I never thought I’d turn Give the Lady a Ride into a series. I allowed their personalities to develop as I wrote and kept them true to what transpired as my writing progressed.
But it’s amazing what information I can glean out of these two by reminding myself of their interactions with the main characters and with each other, and by rereading what few snippets of their backstory I did bother to develop. (One thing that tickles me as a seat-of-the-pants writer is how fully developed they appear to be, even without me going through the outline method. Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m patting myself on the back, because I did a great job in my award-winning novel!)
So, here’s what I came up with for Marie and Chance:
What’s fun about having this in a chart is that I can compare the two and see what aspects of their personalities lend themselves to conflict. For instance, when faced with a problem, Chance is logical, Marie is emotional, but they both make snap decisions as to how to handle it. What happens if those decisions are on opposite ends of the spectrum when they’re dealing with the same problem?
What part of Marie’s personality will drive Chance nuts, and vice versa? Are there aspects of their personalities that are so similar they’re likely to clash?
Using this tool, I can determine what types of things will upset my characters’ little love nest and how one will respond to the other when issues arise. In turn, this can help me hype up the tension between them.
Great tool. Well done, Katie. Well done.