Welcome to Day 7 of NaNoPlotMo. Today we’re going to build our supporting cast and give them goals. Keep in mind that a major character is one who appears in at least three scenes. For the novice writer, we want to keep that cast to as few as we can get away with. Each genre has different cast requirements. In general, though, try to keep your cast to 5 or 6, besides the protagonist and antagonist.
Goals make your story
You’ve created a list of goals for your protagonist and antagonist. If you create a table, you can list the generic name for your goals down the left side of the page, then your characters across the top. In each field, you can write an abbreviated specific of that goal (ie. House train dog).
Your generic goals, if you recall, were things like:
The key here is to have each character share a generic goal with your protagonist. For example, your character “Susan” may have a romantic goal, a career goal, and a financial goal. I’d keep it at three or less goals for the supporting characters. You don’t want them taking over the story. And think about how they will interact. Susan’s romantic goal may be to win over Bob. Bob’s marriage goal is to keep his wife, Cheryl. Cheryl’s career goal may be to impress her boss, Susan. Get it? A simple graph like this can get the wheels turning.
Time to make a story!
You’ve probably already got some characters in mind. So lets get your list of goals down. Then list your characters across the top. You can use index cards if you wish. But start thinking how all these characters can interact. Make a game of it.
This is also the time to see if you need another character. No goal should only have one character attached (my opinion). Or, as is often the case, we see two characters pretty much serving the same purpose. Combine them into one character.
Got it? This is where it starts to get fun. Your entire novel is about to be laid out in a one page grid. Go ahead. Tomorrow, we’ll translate these goals into story beats. This is a big step and you’ll need days, maybe weeks, to complete it. But it will produce a working outline for your story. And you, my friends, will be ready to write a sellable novel in November.