Books·Writing Tip

Participating in NaNoWriMo? Anita Rau Badami shares her secret to creating believable characters

If you're participating in National Novel Writing Month, Author and visual artist Anita Rau Badami says to start small when creating a character for a story.
November is National Novel Writing Month. (Merelize on Stockvault)

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. The annual event, which started in 1999, challenges people to write a novel that is 50,000 words in length in 30 days. 

With all that writing to do, staying motivated is no easy feat, but CBC Books is here to help. We're publishing two writing tips each week to support and inspire you along the way.

When answering Joy Fielding's question for her Magic 8 Q&A, Anita Rau Badami had this helpful tip: 

"I start with a small detail drawn from somebody I know or have observed, any little thing to provide the seed of truth from which my character can grow. This is merely to push my imagination into gear, after which I begin to invent furiously. I also create an entire backstory for my characters — where they live, their favourite food, family, friends, etc. These details are the invisible scaffolding for the whole structure and don't necessarily get used."

Author and visual artist Anita Rau Badami was born in India and emigrated to Canada in 1991. Her second novel, The Hero's Walk, was defended by Vinay Virmani on Canada Reads 2016. Her third novel, Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?, was longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction, and she received the Marian Engel Award for a female writer in mid-career.

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