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Novel Writing 3


This is the third excerpt from Novel Writing: 16 Steps to Success by Evan Marshall

We are running several excerpts from this title from the A & C Black Writing Handbooks series, by kind permission of the publisher.

Creating Your Lead

There’s an old argument among novelists. Some insist that characters determine plot, whilst others maintain that plot determines characters. I say both sides are right. Characters’ personalities inevitably affect how a story develops. But your story idea helps you define your characters.

Defining the lead

Your lead is your novel’s most important character, the hero or heroine of your story. Every novel needs a lead; a novel without a lead is like a movie without a star.

To define your lead, as well as your other major characters, use the character fact list – a compilation of the facts you need to know about a character before you begin plotting your story. Use all the following categories every time you create a character fact list.

Character fact list

Character Type:
Connection to Lead:
Story Goal:

Body Type:
Hair Colour:
Eye Colour:
Distinctive Speech Pattern:
Personal Life:
Private Life:
Work Life:

You now know enough about your lead to begin taking her through your story.

Third excerpt from Novel Writing: 16 Steps for Success, Second Edition by Evan Marshall, published by A & C Black at £12.99.

The first excerpt
The second excerpt
The third excerpt
The fourth excerpt
The fifth excerpt
The sixth excerpt

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© 2004, 2000 Evan Marshall