Bringing your characters to life

Exploring visualisation technology Metahuman

I’m on Substack now. You don’t need to do anything: you’ll continue receiving this newsletter as normal (and can unsubscribe whenever you want, if you want!). It does make it easier and prettier to check out the archives, though - and in the future it’ll make it simple for me to sort out early access for the next book.

Cool writer tech

I’ve been dabbling with Metahuman a lot recently. If you’re interested in visualising your characters it’s well worth signing up and giving it a go, given that it’s entirely free. Here’s a glimpse at some of my characters from The Mechanical Crown, brought to life:

That’s Kirya Tellador: a princess, a little haughty, very privileged, but also a rebel and a dreamer.

There’s Tranton Seldon, an incredibly tough explorer/recluse who finds himself wandering into a decidedly unwelcoming society. Look at those eyes!

Finally we have Fenris Silt, mentor to Kirya and general pain in the arse to Tranton. I’ve had some debates over on the NCW Discord about whether this is even a good idea conceptually - should a writer create potentially ‘definitive’ versions of characters, rather than leaving it up to the reader’s imagination?

I’m not quite decided whether to incorporate this into my books going forward, or keep it solely as a private resource for my own reference. Having a gallery of photoreal fictional characters in my Scrivener research folder would certainly be a useful aid to consistency.

That said, the project I’m currently gearing up to publish later this year is a police procedural and has a very large cast of recurring characters. I can imagine a ‘cast list’ at the front of the book being useful to new readers, as those characters move in and out of focus as the story progresses.


It’s been another good month on The Writing Life podcast. I had a chat with William Ryan, who has published a comprehensive Guide To How To Write. Lots of good core principles stuff in there:

Steph also had a super practical conversation with Jen Campbell about building your writer platform, which is never not useful:

Book progress update

I’ve completed the bulk of the essential world building for Multiverse Mysteries (probably a working title, might not be, tempted to stick with it because it’s pulpy and fun) and am now deep into plotting and character dev.

As this is a police procedural (sort of) it’s a different structure to anything I’ve done previously, in that it is based around detective investigations. What this converts into meaning is that the ‘season’ is split into multiple cases, each of which are likely to be two-parters. I’m imagining season 1 to be about six cases, thus 12 episodes. Running behind the main investigations will be a longer arc of a plot that will start off very background and come into focus down the line.

This has made me appreciate cop shows which have to come up with a new police storyline for every single episode. I know they tend to have entire rooms of writers to hash out this stuff, but still. It’s a lot. The way I’m working it is to have an ever-growing folder of case ideas in Scrivener, and I can pull out these ideas as and when I need them. They’re largely agnostic in terms of when they get used, so I can populate up a season and then interweave character and plot arcs in and around the main detective work.

It should make for a compelling narrative setup, I hope.

The next decision is to pinpoint exactly what kind of age rating I’m going for - everything I’ve done so far has been roughly YA, skewing somewhere in the 12-21 kind of age range (while remaining very accessible and enjoyable for older readers, too). I’m thinking Multiverse Mysteries might end up being aimed at slightly older readers, so that I can delve into some of the nastier crimes supported by the setting. Not sure yet.

Right, time to go and do some (non-newsletter) writing.

Thanks for reading!

Simon K Jones