Inventing characters for that novel

Sketches of Beryl, Katherine, Susan, Lilian and Tessa: 5 characters in Fixing Mrs Philpott, a novel
Sketching some of the 27 characters in “Fixing Mrs Philpott”

I faced a crazy challenge with my latest novel, Fixing Mrs Philpott: 27 characters! How to even imagine them all, let about writing them with conviction!

I tried a new trick, which helped enormously — I drew them all.

I’m no artist, so I couldn’t very well draw people from real life. (They won’t sit still.) Instead I would record TV shows like Country Calendar or Antiques Roadshow and pause the flow whenever I found a character who might suit my purpose. Then I would draw that person.

Quite often, though, I drew my people from imagination alone. The five in the illustration above are probably imaginary — but watching TV with a pencil in my hand really sharpened my observational skills, if not my drawing!

I know, I’m terrible at drawing, but who cares? Sketches like these are more than sufficient for my purpose. They are draft characters for me to colour in.

Later I might change many details but at least I had a starting point. I highly recommend this strategy for face-blind writers with aphantasia, like me. Plus it’s so much fun.

 

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