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Character Casting

Open Auditions

Casting for Lady Dae’s newest Novel

Roles Open on a Need to Cast Basis Only!

So you’ve got an idea for a novel, you’ve got a conflict in mind, the plot is coming together in your head, and you want to start writing it. The question is, “Who’s going to be in it?” You can’t start a novel without characters, but the first thing you need to figure out is what roles you need filled. I like to treat this process something the way a casting director would probably cast roles in a movie. So I decided to show this in a series of steps for casting for a novel in a general sense.

Step One: How many Roles need to be filled?

 I say you should create characters and cast roles on the basis of need. That means create your character with the purpose of filling a role in mind. Doing this keeps you focused and from having too many unnecessary characters that not only you, the writer, has to keep up with, but eventually the reader. If you must have a big cast, make sure every character is different or has a distinction and serves a particular purpose in the story. That means each of them has to have a different voice, a different personalities etc…

Step Two: Creating the Character

Unlike Hollywood movies, we don’t have the luxury of bringing a whole bunch of actors to an audition and asking them to act the role in the way they envision it and I don’t know whether that makes our job easier or harder as writers. Either way, that means we have to come up with the personalities and the appearances and the whole nine yards. The good thing about this is that you get to create a character to fit the role. So let’s say for my “girl has to defeat sexist maniac” from the post on The Main Plot and the Sub-plot. Here we obviously need a female character and here we have to keep in mind the role and what this character has to do. So since she’s battling sexism essentially, she needs a strong personality, to be independent, and damn near feminist or maybe not feminist. Maybe she understands that men have roles in society and so do women, neither more important that the other but important for the part they play in aiding humanity. Either way, it has to be a personality that will oppose the sexist maniac antagonist. Get the picture? The character has to fit the role they’re going to play.

It’s like this. You wouldn’t ask me, Lady Dae, to go and do open heart surgery would you? That’s not the role I play in society. I’m a writer. I like to entertain and write novel all day long. But neither would you ask that same doctor to who hasn’t written anything close to fiction in his life to write a best-selling urban fantasy in three months… Well, actually, he might be able to do that. This just goes to show how some roles can cross. Not the best example, but I have a whole post dedicating to creating characters since I’ve deemed this character week. My point is, certain roles and personalities can mix and some can’t.

Step Three: Casting

What’s the difference between this and the step above? Well, just because you created a character for a particular role doesn’t mean they’re going to fit. You may find that the character you created might fit better playing another role. Like you MC’s sister may be better suited to play your MC’s cousin from out of town. I did this one once and I’ve switched roles around before. I know! It’s like in a movie where an actor tries out for one part but gets another because the director thinks that the actor is better suited for another part. It happens in movies, and it will happen in your novel. The thing about novels or stories though is that you may very well still be recasting halfway into your work and even into your first round of edits and revisions.

Step Four: Recreating and Recasting

You mean we have to go through this again? No. You don’t have to. Everything may turn out perfectly fine, and you can stop at step three and call it a day. But sometimes, a lot of the times actually, a character just doesn’t work out the way you plan. Sometimes it’s just some aspect of the character that just isn’t working out the way you planned and all you have to do in recreate them a little. If your female protagonist who has to defeat the evil sexist maniac is a little too feisty, a little too independent, a little too feminist, tone it down some. If you don’t like that she’s feminist at all, just throw the entire trait out the window. You’ll find that doing this makes the character so much easier to write.

In my real novel that I’m still editing (damn school right now, just damn it!), I couldn’t find her voice. Something about her character wasn’t working. She was too passive, I didn’t like her and then I realized that my attitude towards her was because I couldn’t stand her name! Something as simple as her name was stopping her from filling her role right. I changed the name and bam, she’s on a roll. She’s a more real character who people can relate to, who I could relate to. But sadly, sometime you just have to take a character out the picture completely. It’s hard because we writers love our characters. They’re our babies. We care for them like our own children and cry for them, laugh for them, etc. But you can’t sacrifice the story for the character. Just put it this way. Maybe that character has a debut in another novel.

So this post is basically going about how to pick your cast of characters for roles in your story and characters in general. The creating character thing will get its own post tomorrow, and let’s face it. All writers need help with a character every now and then. I beat my head on the wall regularly about characters I’ve created or a role I just happened to notice I didn’t fill, which is my problem for something right now. Anyway, some tips on casting

1) Create characters on a need to cast basis. Meaning if they’re not needed or don’t have a role, don’t try to make a role for them to play.

2) No self inserts. You, the writer, are not a potential character in one of these roles unless this is a autobiography or based on true events that closely mirror a personal experience. No self inserts! In fact, NTS: Do a blog post on self inserts later and the problems they pose.

3) Distinction is the key when casting characters. If you have two characters that are so much alike that you can’t really distinguish them personality wise one of two things has happened. They fulfill the same role in the story or the personalities you chose is a very dual one and when I say that, I mean it’s like a novelist and poet, it’s two different types of writing with very different ways of execution, but still writing. Anyway, this means you need to merge the roles or make a bigger distinction between the characters. They can be alike, like the novelist and the poet, but the novelist hates prosy writing and metaphors and clever poetic descriptions while the poet may not like blunt and straight forward wording. Get it?

4) No unnecessary roles. Let me put it like this. Why would Harry Potter need a twin sister to share his destiny as I’ve seen in oh so many fanfics (don’t act like you don’t read them sometimes)? Sometimes it’s not that you made a character you didn’t need, but you made a role you didn’t need. Unfortunately that means booting out the character unless the writer can find a place to put them.

5) Did I mention no self inserts?

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