The Must Haves – when starting a new book – Part II


Last week, I blogged about various methods to help take those ghost-like characters in your head and make them living, breathing people on the page.  (Refer to last week’s blog as a refresher)

Since I can’t realistically (due to time constraints) do all of the methods I described for each and every book that I write (though perhaps I should), I have narrowed down my beginning process to a couple of pages.

1.  Choose a character archetype for the hero and heroine and thoroughly get to know them.

2.  Make a list of seven character elements for both the hero and heroine, where each one is in direct conflict with the other:  Short term goal, long term goal, conflict of Circumstance (identity and their station in life), conflict of Personality, conflict of relationship, emotional danger (what they fear the most!), and epiphany/resolution (they grow and change).

Soon, they’ll be walking out of that great mist in your head and right onto the written page in full living color.

young couple walking through avenue of trees in dense fog


Where Deb Dixon in G.M.C. Goal, Motivation & Conflict asks:  What does the character want?

I ask, what is the short term goal for the hero and heroine?

Deb asks why do they want it?

I insert the long term goals and life circumstances which have formed the character, keeping the answers brief with short sentences.

What stops them from achieving it?

This is where things get a bit more complicated. The answer involves the character hang-ups (knowing their fatal flaws), which affects their relationship (the barrier that keeps them from loving another), which, if your playing the conflict card properly will springboard into the moment when all seems lost. (Black Moment)

Finally, because I can’t enjoy a story with characters that don’t redeem themselves, the last step involves that light bulb moment when they finally get it.  Their life lesson (epiphany) teaches them they CAN change and they do the right thing by forming a plan to bring resolution about. (Resolve the relationship barrier) You cannot have a happy-ever-after without this part.


I don’t believe it when authors say, “Once I did such-in-such, the book practically wrote itself.”  However, I am a true believer in helping myself along with this solid bit of homework before I officially begin putting words to the page.  Once I’ve nailed these “Must Haves,” I overlay them onto the beginning, middle, and end of the plot (synopsis) in my work in progress.  Though I’ve yet to have a book write itself, these steps sure help the process along!

If you’re looking for a way to help begin that next book, why not give this “Must Have” method a try?

Let me know if this method helps!

Until next time, make it a great one,



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