Character Mapping

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The first book I bought when I got serious about writing novels was Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. (I highly recommend both the book and the workbook together.) It was this book that taught me how to create a character map. If you’re new to creating characters and story lines, I highly recommend this. You’ll be surprised how many different ways you can connect your characters and it makes their back stories come to life almost on their own.

When I used this method for my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, it revealed a twist and surprise at the end. Here’s an example of a character map based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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And here’s one for Shakespeare’s Othello:

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Sometimes your characters may not have very many interactions or relationships with one another. In my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, the setting was a small, close-knit community. A lot of the people were related and had grown up together for years. So the map looked like a maze much like the one for Pride and Prejudice. But in my current work in progress, the characters come together on a steamboat from different parts of the country and interact with passengers on the boat who are strangers to them. So there aren’t as many mysterious cousin-type relationships.

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If you’re stuck on a story, try using the character map. I promise it will get you unstuck and spark some exciting new ideas.

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2 replies
  1. Kathleen Rouser
    Kathleen Rouser says:

    Karla, great post! I have this book, but not
    the workbook. Don’t think I finished it. I’ll
    have to take it out and take a look at it
    again. This character mapping sounds
    like it would be very helpful.

    Reply

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