On Twitter and Facebook, I asked a question to my followers if they would be interested in seeing how From Ashe is being developed. I felt this would be both an insightful series of posts that shows my progress in creating a light novel series on top of showing people my method in doing so which may or may not help them start a series of their own.
Obviously, since this post exists, people voted yes on whether or not they wanted to see this.
Over this series of posts, I will cover things such as picking out the genre, the main character, their personalities, the setting, story points, side characters, etc.
This first post will focus on Genre and Main Characters so let’s jump into it!
The first step I take when creating a light novel is picking the genre. Maybe you already have a character in mind and while that’s great, do they REALLY fit the genre that you’re interested in writing? Some writers like to pick a character first and then build a book around them and how it fits their personality, style, and other attributes. That is certainly one method but I like to think of a setting and a world first and then populate that world with the characters. I feel if you have the type of world and setting established, it is easier to create characters that align with the rules of that world.
Again, that’s just my method.
When it came to the genre for From Ashe, it took a bit of soul searching. I had ideas for a few light novels. Once being my medieval fantasy series Shadow Wing (which I tried reworking as The Zero Eclipse), a sci-fi Deadpool-like action series about a super snarky guy who has powers, a paranormal drama about a guy named Jakob who could see into the souls of others, and so forth. All of these have different genres and while all of those were appealing, they all had certain rules you were bound to.
The latter two I only had general ideas on and never really fleshed them out, per se. While with Shadow Wing, I was putting in a lot of effort to try and craft an interesting series and I felt too restricted by the fantasy setting’s rules.
Writing A.R. Dragonfly made me realize just how much flexibility and freedom I have with my characters and what they can do inside of this genre. I felt that slice-of-life was right for me so I decided to stick with it for From Ashe. Of course, if you like Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Action, Paranormal, Drama, or anything of the sort, feel free to use it and craft a story that works best for you in the genre you’re most comfortable in.
With Slice-of-Life chosen, it was time to create the main character.
This might be a controversial step because one would think that I should come up with the base of the story first. What is the role of this world? What purpose does it serve? Oddly, I actually do that based on the type of main character I create.
With Amber in A.R. Dragonfly, I came up with her as a socially-awkward gamer girl. When I thought about her personality, I started to feel bad for her in relation to who she was as a character, how she would live her life. I called those pain points. Then I started to ask “What would relieve those pain points?” and I started crafting a story around that. Giving her a rival was another pain point. What if they meet? How does she react? What does she do for a living? How does that affect her personality? Where does she go from there?
Once you make a character and start asking those questions, you can come up with scenarios and if they tie together, then you know that you’re onto something and you have a story.
That’s my preferred method… creating a character in my head and then treating them like you met them for the first time in real life. Start asking the questions you would normally ask someone. Then, start asking deeper, more personal questions about them, about their lives, etc. Except, you’re the one answering your own questions. Once you discover what kind of character they are and what their goals are, what their personality is, you can then begin to create the world around that.
In Ashe’s case, it all started with a name. I knew that I wanted another female lead because writing Amber was so much fun. One of the regrets I had with A.R. Dragonfly was that I felt like I underutilized Lynn Aichner. She was such a fun character to write and that sassy, ‘definitely-not-shy,’ tomboyish personality was just appealing. I knew I wanted my new main character to be like that.
So I knew she was a female tomboy with a bit of sass and wasn’t exactly shy about anything. Still, she needed a name. I went through a list of names I kept and saw the name Ashe. It leapt out at me and I felt that Ashe was a great name for a sassy type of character. She needed a last name though and that was the toughest part.
I tried something cool and made her name Ashe Winter but when I tossed it around to people, it got a mixed reaction. Plus, Winter doesn’t really scream sass. Ashe Winter sounds more like a character that’s reserved, quiet, a bit stern and direct. So, I took to the internet and began looking up names. I spent a good few hours saying names out loud until I landed on Ashe Sawyer.
The name rolled off the tongue and I felt that it fit the character archetype. Again, tossing it around, it received much higher praise so I went with it and Ashe Sawyer was born!
So, that’s it! That’s how I came up with the genre for From Ashe as well as its main character.
In the next installment, I’m going to talk about constructing Ashe’s world and adding the second main character! Until then, now that you’ve learned my character creation process, feel free to meet Ashe for yourself. Talk to her, ask her some questions, and see what kind of world you would build with her just based on the information I gave you!
Then, come back here for the second installment and let’s see if your answers and mine match up!