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How to write a novel | character development


Sunshine 034

If you’re new to my Wednesday blog about writing, the story so far is about Nick. Nick goes on a road trip after the death of his parents and meets Lily, an American from New England who he forms a love-hate relationship with. Most of the story will take place in the English Countryside. I have a picture of a village green in my mind and a village cricket match. They play cricket on the field in the picture and wear whites, it is far removed from a village green, but  the scene looks a little like that on a summer’s day. You need imagination to set the scene and the characters; that is what writing is all about. The child who once looked out of the window in the school classroom and daydreamed, often grows up to be the aspiring writer.

I didn’t do that of course, I could never get a seat near the window! We have to imagine the scene, an English village with a black and white beamed pub, a village shop and a village green. We have to imagine the characters. Nick is English and quite reserved, he is also in mourning for his parents who died in that tragic accident in California. Lily is quite empathic towards him, but has a typically American can-do attitude to life that Nick finds difficult to accept. They are thrown together when Lily is stranded in the English village because her hire car has broken down. Nick likes her and so takes her in and offers to drive her to her next destination. I want the differences between Nick and Lily to result in humorous dialogue.

The humour is never easy and I have been trying to think of typically American clichés and ideas that Nick will comment on. Clichés like have  a nice day, which I see Nick using in a slightly sarcastic way. Nick and Lily will be travelling together, eating together and sleeping in the same camper van. Maybe Nick could cook for Lily? He could offer to cook her something typically English and she could maybe get confused by the English terms. He might suggest fish and chips, that’s typically English.

“We could have fish and chips for dinner from the shop,” Nick suggests.

“Potato chips?”

“Yes, they are like your fries, but thicker and far more nourishing. I think they make them from real potatoes too,” Nick retorts.

“Real potatoes? Wow! Who knew?”

That conversation could continue around the theme of fish and chips and be quite funny. Lily’s reaction to mushy peas could be interesting. The English have odd ways with fish and chips, often having a pickled onion with them, that could result in a little amusing dialogue.

“What’s that smell?” Lily asks picking up another chip with her fingers.

“It’s probably this pickled onion. Sorry, did you want one?” Nick grins plucking a pickled onion from the white paper package.

“Eww,  thank God you didn’t have the pickled egg; they looked disgusting.”

When you’re writing comedy lines, one word can be the difference between funny and not funny. I can imagine what goes on in the mind of our protagonist. Nick is from Birmingham, home of the Birmingham balti and so he might even choose a pot of curry sauce with his meal. I am struggling to imagine what would go through the mind of a 20’s something woman from New England in this situation. Do you have any suggestions?

I think this story has potential. I need more clichés! I think I want to avoid the more profane swear words too. We have more innocent ones in England like bloody and bugger. I need to make a note of the American equivalents. They seem to be mostly religion based too, like Oh my God and Geez…

Do you have any suggestions for dialogue or other funny lines, please comment. You can also find more amazing blogs on the home page. Click the Facebook ‘like’ button, if you think the story has potential.

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6 responses

  1. Pingback: How to write a novel | Comedy « Mike10613's Blog

  2. Pingback: How to write a novel | Colloquialisms « Mike10613's Blog

  3. Pingback: How to write a novel| the ante climax « Mike10613's Blog

  4. Pingback: How to write a novel | Emotions « Mike10613's Blog

  5. Pingback: How to write a novel | Character development « Mike10613's Blog

  6. Pingback: How to write a novel: narration and dialogue « Mike10613's Blog

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