Character webbing

No, I’m not going to talk about characters with webbed hands. Or ducks. I’d like to talk about ducks but I’m pretty sure this would be a very short post if I did. With a very limited audience. Unless I had a cute picture of ducklings, which I don’t, so no ducks.

So if I’m not talking about webbed characters, what am I talking about? I’m talking about the brainstorming process you can use to discover things about your character/s you didn’t know you knew. I’m not sure where I picked it up – I remember using it in a college art class to discover topics to create art around, but I seemed to already have it in my mind. It’s really a process you can use for discovering anything but tonight, I just want to talk about using it to discover your characters.

Webbing is just what it sounds: you put your character’s name in the middle of a page, and just start drawing out from it things you think of that relate to your character. I usually find it most helpful to begin with their physical appearance and work from there.

I drew up an example to show you what I mean:

Here, I started in green to describe her physical appearance (which brought out an interesting tidbit about what she thinks about one part of her anatomy) then jumped to her family (in orange), her personality and skills/interests (purple), to a description of her as a kid (pink) leading into her current identity crisis in college and what she does as a result of that crisis, which as you can see, leads into the beginnings of a plot.

This took me about 5 minutes to do and I’m always surprised at how fast the ideas and the details come pouring out when I do this exercise. I should mention that this isn’t a character in my current book so I knew nothing about her when I started – I just totally made her up (and I might have to use her in a story now – I’m intrigued). I don’t always color-code or use my crayola markers, but there’s something about writing on a large sheet of paper that seems to call out for it. I also find that the size of the ¬†markers and the colors make my brain think a little differently than if I were to have done this on a lined sheet of notebook paper with a black pen. It wouldn’t have been worse, or less interesting, but it would definitely have been different.

Anyway, that’s character webbing and like I said, you can apply this to explore other things: your scenery, your world’s history, even your plot. In fact, I think I might need to start doing some more of these to hash out my plot a little soon.

Now, before I fall asleep at the keys, I’m going to check out. Nite all!

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About thewritingblues

I'm a writer working on a YA dystopian novel and blogging on my progress - or lack thereof - and other cool writing stuff.
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3 Responses to Character webbing

  1. Pingback: Inspiration strikes « the writing blues

  2. kathytemean says:

    Mara,

    Like that you showed us your mapping. Like the old saying, A picture is worth a thousands words.

    Kathy

  3. thewritingblues says:

    Thanks, Kathy. Yes I thought it might help a little bit to have the picture because it’s a hard concept to explain. Glad it did :) Thanks for reading!

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