Welcome to the final installment of Constructing From Ashe. In the first two installments, I talked about creating the main character, creating the world she lived in, and the secondary main character.
Now, all that is left is to fill the world and create side stories! Let’s jump right in and talk about how I put the “finishing touches” on creating a brand-new series.
Filling the World
What does filling the world actually mean and how does it differ than creating side stories? Well, filling the world means both locations and supporting/minor characters. I currently have eight supporting characters which bring us to a total of 10. Right now, that’s a pretty small universe. As I sit here and type this out, I can already imagine there being more much than just the ten that I have. Character saturation is a concern but I feel that if I can group them into what I call factions, they can be more manageable.
I experimented with this in A.R. Dragonfly with Things N’ Stuff. When Sebastian hired a new staff, that became a faction. Every time you go to Things N’ Stuff, you know you will run into Sebastian, Jessi, Rebekah, Krystle, Vance, and Devin. Amber, Kaito, Lynn, & Takumi could also be considered another faction but they’re pretty spread out and aren’t really grouped together.
So, in From Ashe, that will be a little different. For example, Ashe, Renji, and their supporting character… their house cat… will be a faction. Ashe’s co-workers at her job will be another faction. The editorial staff once she gets an editor later on in the story will be another faction, and so forth. These supporting characters won’t always be in the spotlight but if you go to that location with Ashe, you can expect to encounter those characters.
The balance here isn’t to have them always isolated, though. Some of these characters can be found outside of where you would normally find them. For instance, a co-worker could come pay Ashe a visit at her home or she could run into someone at the mall. Ashe also has friends in her life and those friends will be another faction that kind of works like Amber/Takumi/Kaito/Lynn in A.R. Dragonfly.
The idea is to create a world that is always living and breathing. Whenever you visit these characters, there should be something interesting about them that makes you want to visit them. Sometimes, things happen ‘off camera’ that aids in development, too. An example of this is Daniel McDevitt in A.R. Dragonfly. He started off as a Lead Designer for Nickname Studios and ‘off camera’ he got promoted to Game Director. He then took a more active role in the lives of our main characters and you felt that sense of progression with him even though his appearances throughout the series was sporadic.
Of course, when you think about factions, you think about the world they exist in. Right now, it’s Ashe’s home, Ashe’s workplace, and the editorial department. It makes you think what else is in Ashe’s hometown? Where are the places she likes to go to? What are some of the things she likes to do to clear her head from writing? Maybe she has a secret spot she likes to go to (spoiler: she does) in order to be alone and clear her mind. What can she find there and how can these spots be used for future scenes?
Creating Side Stories
As I thought about these things, the world of From Ashe became clearer and clearer. I think it’s important to think about the kind of life your main character has. Once you do that, the world just kind of fills up on its own. Example, let’s say Ashe likes bowling as one of her hobbies (she doesn’t, this is just as an example). That means a bowling alley should exist in her world. Maybe she joins a team. Now you have a faction of characters. Maybe one of the team members gets sick and she has to find a replacement. There’s a side-story right there. What if the replacement carries them to a tournament win and they end up replacing the sick member? Now you have drama and another side-story. What if you have to go to their house in order to smooth things over? Now you have another location in your world for another scene to go to.
It seems simple but you can see how just one character trait can spiral out and flesh out the world that you’re in. That’s why it’s always important to know every facet and detail about your main character (or even sub-characters). Imagine if you did this with every character, main or supporting, and then crafted side-stories that impacted your main character?
Another example are writing competitions that Ashe will get into. Her rivals, her fellow competitors… those become another faction of characters. Are there some that are good and play nice with Ashe? Are there some that belittle her and try to gain the emotional edge? So many different scenarios here… what if a friendly rival asks Ashe out to the park, or to the mall, or to a cafe to talk or do research or something? What if an unfriendly rival lures her to one of those locations in order to try and cause some sort of harm to her?
Thinking of these things will create your side-stories. Just make sure that everything you do create makes sense and fits into the overall shell of things. It doesn’t always have to be with the main character, either. I have a few side-stories planned for the supporting characters that have nothing to do with Ashe. This adds to character depth and personality which, in turn, connects them with your readers. Side-stories also help flesh out and expand your world so the two of them really go hand-in-hand.
I hope this gave you a glimpse into my thought process. I know a lot of what I wrote sounds like advice more than what I’ve done but that ‘advice’ IS what I’ve done so I thought I’d pass it along to you guys. To recap all three parts, here is what I’ve done to create the world of From Ashe.
- Genre: I decided on slice-of-life as I felt that it gave me the biggest freedom to write diverse characters.
- Main Character: I decided on the name of the character, what she is, and how to tell her story. In this case, Ashe Sawyer is a writer who wants to become a novelist and this is her journey through the trials of becoming just that.
- Second Main Character: I created Renji Keita, his backstory, how it tied into Ashe’s story and her life, his personality, and how he counterbalances her.
- World Building: I decided on the type of setting, in this case, rural suburbs. I decided to create places in this world for Ashe to go… her job, for instance.
- Filling The World: Creating support characters by way of ‘factions.’ Creating secondary locations based on those characters and the main character’s interests. Always have a living, breathing world.
- Side-Stories: By way of supporting characters and main character interests. What kind of side stories can distract Ashe? Which ones can assist her? How do they fit? Do the other characters have their own stories to tell?
Once you have all of this in place, you just need to start bullet pointing. Create your story flow. Connect the dots not from beginning to end but from major plot point to major plot point. For me, I like both planned and discovery writing as I can move along with the flow of the story all while adding in things as I think of them on the way. It worked really well for A.R. Dragonfly so I’ll continue to use that style in From Ashe.
Hope you enjoyed this series and that you got a glimpse into my process into crafting this story. All that is left is to start writing! If all goes according to plan, look for From Ashe in early 2021!