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How to write a novel-Step-3-Support Characters


So, you want to write a novel?

In this series, I’ll detail out my process of writing a novel. This is the story of How I converted a simple idea into 70,000 (Scrabble Queen) and 80,000 (Penniless) word manuscripts.

I will use my latest writing project Bhumiyin Kathai (Bhumi’s story) as an example, so that it can serve as an inspiration for you. (Totally selfish reasons, while trying to explain stuff to you, I am getting the motivation to complete outlining the story 😁)

I am writing this story (eventually as a screenplay) to serve as a backdrop and an interest creator for this course -

Right, back to novel writing.

You’ve written the one line story, then wrote your main story arc. Now what?

Step 3
List down support characters

For Bhumiyin Kathai:

  1. Bhumi - main character
  2. Okano Nakazo - Main support character (maybe romantic interest)
  3. Vaani - Bhumi’s sister
  4. Kathir - Bhumi’s brother
  5. Kalai - Bhumi’s youngest sister
  6. Palanisamy - Bhumi’s dad (antagonist 1)
  7. Param - Bhumi’s classmate (antagonist 2)

What do you do with each of these characters?

You will have to make them 3 dimensional. How?

Game of Thrones has so many characters, but we might actually remember each one of them well. The reason is that GRRM fleshed out the characters so well that they became memorable in their own ways.

Write out the characteristics of every character as if you know them well.

Age, what they are now, some physical characteristics, motivations, weaknesses, desires, ambitions. Make up as much detail as possible. If you know them well, they will flesh out well in your novel.

I did hear of this tip that sometime has worked for me -

Arrange a fictional interview with the character.

This is my list of characters - the letters in parantheses is my code for their role in the story.

Support character
Romantic interest

Bhumi (P)

Bhumi Palanisamy,19, She’s very unsure of herself, because she is fat, wears thick glasses and is considered a geek since she took to picking up English at an early age. An old English teacher in her village helped along. She sees Vaani, Kathir and Kalai becoming mini-versions of her parents. She is prone to lying about stuff. One of her major weaknesses. She is demotivated by people who speak fluent English. She can read real fast, she is not so good at speaking. Her life’s mission is to get her siblings to the city and get them educated. She has no money. Her mother is not willing to help, financially or even has any inclination.

Vaani (SC1)

Vaani Palanisamy. 14, Very tall, boyish. She speaks in a lower pitch than most girls. She likes movies and wants to spend most of her time either talking about movies or watching them. She loves her sister Bhumi and is very loyal to her. Her weakness is she always gets taunted that she is a boy in a girl’s body.

Okano Nakazo (R)

Okano Nakazo, 22, is from Japan. He is a foreign exchange student, who likes Bhumi for her thick glasses. He also struggles speaking English and wears thick glasses. At times, Okano and Bhumi speak in Japanese and Tamil and they seem to understand each other better than in English. He is the marketer for Bhumi. He is stereotyped as a geek playing video games and into anime, but he is no good with computers and he hates Anime and Manga. He is a people person and is very empathetic. He’s the only son to his mom. His ambition is to write a novel. He also wants to go to the Himalayas. He is from Hiroshima, Japan.

Kathir (SC3)

Kathir Palanisamy. 16, Short and thin. Vaani’s twin. He walks with a limp, perhaps, his limbs are not of the same height. His vision and memory are exemplary. Everyone around him including his mom call him “Nondi” (lame). Bhumi calls him by his actual name.

Kalai (SC4)

Kalai Palanisamy. Very sincere. She is very strong and loves working with metals and her hands. Sporty, athletic. Could choose any thing and she could excel, but she chooses to work in the field with her mom. Even though, Bhumi is the eldest, since she is rebellious, Their mom picks out Revathi to get married off first, at the age of 16.

Palanisamy (A1)

40, Father of Bhumi, Vaani, Kathir, Revathi. Widow. Has seen too many kids go to college and get “spoilt” and hence wants all of his daughters to stay nearby. Fire accident made his hands unusable and hence now relies on his kids to make ends meet. Their source of income is to lease their land out to folks, who cheat him because he is a man with disabilities and is also illiterate. All that anger is what he lets out on his daughters. He dissuades his son from helping his sisters.

Param (A2)

Bhumi’s classmate. First ranker in class, who despises Bhumi because she is hogging the limelight in spite of his elite status in class. He’s the darling of all the teachers, but somehow he’s losing stronghold on his teachers. His motivation in hating Bhumi and making sure she doesn’t succeed is his own top spot as the most popular kid in college.

All these characters have physical and psychological attributes. Make sure, you include a weakness in there, particularly one that directly interferes with their goal in life.

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