Posted in Colleen

Characters Write My Stories

When I started writing for my own pleasure, the most exciting thing would be to invent characters for my story. Creating ideas and thoughts that developed a character’s personality, interests, background, etc. has always been a thrill for me. My imagination is ridiculous and I love it.

Some writers come up with plots for their stories before they add charters, scenery, and other details. But I tend to frame a setting and storyline around a protagonist I’ve created. One thing I do to form a character is to follow that old who/what/when/where/why/how trick.

Who: Who do they know? Who are their parents? Friends? Enemies? Who do they trust? Who are they afraid of? Who is their next-door neighbor? Who has hurt them? Who do they want to kill?

What: What do they want out of life? What’s their favorite activity? What kinds of foods do they like eating? What are they thinking about? What bothers them? What is their house made of? What kind of shampoo do they use?

When: When was the last time they slept through the night? When is their birthday? When did they last see their grandparents? When will they move to another country? When do they graduate college? When will they get kissed?

Where: Where do they live? Where did they leave their wallet? Where are they going tomorrow? Where did they go last night? Where is their uncle? Where did they find that charm bracelet? Where are they going to buy new tires for their car?

Why: Why do they have an obsession with sheep? Why did they forget to set their alarm clock? Why did the car in front of them get into an accident this morning? Why were they late to the hairdresser? Why did they choose to wear boots today? Why did they pierce their ears?

How: How are they going to get out of debt? How are they going to make it to the wedding on time? How do they like their steak cooked? How many licks does it take… haha just seeing if you’re actually reading my post. 😉 How is their penmanship?

For me, creating my main character (or main characters) helps me form the plot and setting. After all, the story does kind of revolve around them. I could take the answers of a handful of those questions above and run with them. And it would be a blast doing so!

Before, after, or during the process of running all those questions through my head, I love choosing names! Yes, I get on baby-naming websites and look up origins of names. I like my main characters to have significant meanings. They have to stand out but also fit with the genre, culture, and flow of the story.

I’m a visual kind of girl. So another thing that excites me about character development is imagining what they look like. I’ll google images of people who look similar to how I picture my characters and save them on my desktop for reference. This is helpful when I’m trying to write a scene that describes a character’s particular movement or interaction with another. For example: Can Kate tie her hair in a ponytail? Nope! She has a pixie cut. There will be no swaying of locks in the wind in this chapter. Catch my drift?

rough image of Perry (protagonist of my first novel)
Perry Bellum  (from my first novel)

I hope my scattered ideas help you. I don’t like to make blog posts too long so I’ll cut myself off here. Until our next Thursday together- keep it classy.

CRCH

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Posted in Jobe Workshop Review, Revision

Jobe on Revising A Novel

One of my big summer projects is to work one-on-one with my professor John Vanderslice and revise the novel manuscript I wrote in his Novel Writing class. While we agreed that a summer is not really enough time, I thought tough goals would be a good way to keep myself in check.

Advice that I’ve received so far includes:

  • Dive into the big structural issues, because you may be line editing passages that end up getting cut.
  • Keep 3 how-to books and 3 novels like yours close at hand (Heather Sellers).

The first of my 3 how-to guides is a fantastic book by literary agent Regina Brooks.

reginabrooks
This book has been chock-a-block full of fantastic great advise which is just as easily applied to a second draft as to a first draft.

These web posts also seem pretty solid:

http://hollylisle.com/how-to-revise-a-novel/
http://www.annelyle.com/blog/writing/revising-your-novel-in-10-easy-steps/

And I’m browsing amazon to see which book should be my next pick:

90  rockit uncommonredpen

 

 

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.

.

 

Went to the bookstore last night. I picked this one:
a

Posted in Darby

How to Write a Damn Good Character

Characters are my favorite part to storytelling.  Out of Aristotle’s Six Key Elements (Plot, Character, Theme, Diction, Music, and Spectacle – which we can discuss in another blog post) character tends to be the most diverse and versatile.  Yes, the plot thickens, but how does that happen?  It happens based on character actions.  As the characters make their way through the story, they present the writer with countless “next step” options.  Your job, as the author, is to choose which option best suits the situation and the character’s personality.  That brings me to my main point.  

Character Development

Who is you character?  What do they want?  We can find the answers to these sometimes difficult questions by creating a character profile.  The more detailed the profile is, the easier it will be to figure out the next best step in the plot.  I’m not just talking about physical characteristics, but mental ones as well.  Here is a blank character profile I created to help me develop my literary children.  You can use as many or as few as you want.  Some may not apply to certain characters, or may apply later on.  For example: Occupation.  If your character is five years old, you may choose to omit that one.  However, if you plan on following the five year old into adulthood, you can answer it later.

Full name:

Reason/Meaning behind name:

Nicknames:

Reasons/Meanings behind nicknames:

Race:

Occupation:

Social class:

Physical Appearance

Age:

Eye Color:

Hair Color:

Hairstyle:

Weight:

Height:

Body Type:

Skin Tone:

Shape of Face:

Distinguishing Marks:

Predominant Feature:

Background

Hometown:

Childhood:

First Memory:

Important childhood event that still affects him/her and why:

Education:

Religion:

Family

Mother:

Father:

Siblings (in birth order):

Extended Family:

Favorites

Color:

Music:

Food:

Book:

Drink:

Least Favorites

Color:

Music:

Food:

Book:

Drink:

Personality

How does s/he spend a rainy day:

Most at ease when:

Philosophy:

If granted one wish, what would it be and why:

Past failure s/he would be embarrassed to have people know about:

Daredevil or Cautious:

Greatest Strength:

Greatest Weakness:

Soft Spot:

Is the soft spot obvious to other characters:

Optimist or Pessimist:

Introvert or Extrovert:

Special Talents:

Extremely skilled at:

Extremely unskilled at:

Positive Traits:

Character Flaws:

Mannerisms:

Peculiarities:

Biggest Accomplishment:

Minor Accomplishments:

Biggest Regret:

Minor Regrets:

Darkest Secret:

Does anyone know, if so how did s/he find out:

One word s/he would use to describe self:

How does s/he relate to others:

How is s/he perceived by strangers:

General

Current Location:

Habits:

Most Prized Possession:

Person s/he secretly admires:

Person s/he was influenced most by:

What was s/he doing the week before the story starts:

Mode of Transportation:

There are so many more questions one could ask about the character.  This list is comprised of the questions I use most when developing a new one.

Character development can take a long time.  I have completed the first draft of my very first novel, but I refuse to edit it until I get more character development underway.  I have heaps and heaps of characters in this story, so it is taking an exceptionally long time.  That’s okay though.  Well rounded, deep characters make for a much more fluent story.

You may think you know your characters, but I find it best to write in down in the above form.  This way, I won’t forget anything, and I’ll always be able to refer back to the profile when I’m unsure of a certain character’s next move.

I really hope this helps you with your own character development.  Just remember to take you time and don’t force it.  Until next time…..

-Darby

Posted in Taylor

Let’s Play Favorites

Okay, sorry this was late. At least I wasn’t the first to forget! 😉

Anyway, this week we will all be talking about our favorite characters that we have written.

When we first came up with this, there were two of my characters that came to mind—for completely different reasons. Cam and McKenna.

I’ve had the character Cam for way too many years than I care to admit, and I just can’t figure out what to do with him/the other characters. I’m hopeful it will turn into a dystopian novel one day but so far, no luck. Anyway, the thing I like about him is that he’s misunderstood (typical girl response, I know). Without going into too much detail (because the story is STILL unfolding), he’s basically involved with this futuristic government for his protection even though he doesn’t agree with anything they do. So, through most of the story (or what I have of it), he’s seen as a villain when really he’s the complete opposite. I guess I like that element of surprise.

McKenna was a really interesting character for me to write mainly because she was 5. In her story she’s burned by a house fire. It was so interesting to get to see things from the perspective of a little kid. I got to use sentences like “pink is my favorite color” and “my teddy bear thought it was pretty.” And it’s not like I can talk about a teddy bear in real life without getting some weird looks. I think I just loved getting back into that headspace of a young kid. It was so refreshing even though the topic was pretty heavy.

And I feel guilty now, like I just named my favorite kids or something….

Oops.

Until next time,

Taylor

Posted in Colleen

Accountability Partners

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a big procrastinator- and even more so when whatever I’m supposed to be doing solely involves me. When tasks involve other people’s lives, I find I’m better at accomplishing goals.

For example, during my freshman year of college, I wrote a research paper the night before it was due. Granted I stayed up all night, and it was a Comp 2 class. But the point is there. I had months to write that paper and I kept putting it off.

When it came to group projects, I had the urge to push them off as well. But my gut would constantly remind me that people were depending on me. I guess I like to be depended upon. It gives me a sense of purpose. So this is why I’m a fan of accountability partners when it comes to writing.

Last year, I took a class where everyone had to write their own novels. And over the past ten months, I’ve been telling myself I need to edit mine. I’ve made 2 separate attempts to do this. Both have failed pathetically.

SO… one of my fellow writing friends, (our Monday girl, Taylor), and I decided to be each other’s accountability partners. We swapped our novel drafts and have until July 1st to read them. Then we’ll be offering feedback, etc. I put the date on here to remind both of us that this is FOR REAL. Because, you know, writers are totally lazy. 😉

But I guess my point this week is that I need deadlines and I need people to hold me accountable for my writing. This blog has been a great help with that. I encourage you to go find someone who wants to be serious about writing and get going! There’s always something to write about. If you ever need a prompt, feel free to ask any of us. We’ve got your back. Have a FANTASTIC Thursday!

CRCH

Posted in Jobe Workshop Review

Jobe Likes Rules

So if you’ve been following our blog you’ve seen that this round’s theme is interacting with the writing adage “write what you know.” I’ll go ahead and play devil’s advocate and agree that yes, we should do this! Here’s why:

1. If you are writing with authenticity informed by true experience, your reader will recognize your writerly authority. For example, if you’ve experienced, say, the loss of a pet, and you write about, say, the loss of a friend, your reader is likely to be touched by that scene, either from empathy for the character or with sympathy from similar experience. You don’t have to write “exactly” the same thing you’ve gone through, but you can translate your personal experiences into fodder for good scenes.

2. If you don’t know something but you want to, learn it! There is very little limitation to what we can learn these days. From scouring the internet to traveling the world, there are about a million ways to broaden your horizons. So dig deep, do the research, experience something new — and you, too, can make the “what you know” category a little bigger every day.

2

 

Jobe

 

Posted in Darby

I Do What I Want

The first thing I was taught once joining the Writing Department at my university was to “write what I know”. This is completely false. Write what you feel, and you will always be happy with the outcome.

Write what you know. I changed my major after about 3 semesters. I took Intro to Creative Writing where I was simply told to write what I know. I have always loved writing, and I only ever wrote what came to mind. The few short stories I wrote in Intro where my absolute worst. It wasn’t that they were poorly written. Grammatically speaking, they were near perfect. It was the simple fact that I found them boring. I had written what I knew, which made me not feel anything special for them. This may be why I am not partial to nonfiction writing.

Once I discovered screenwriting and more advanced fiction classes, I began to realize that I had it right from the beginning. Write what you feel.

Some of my best characters are middle aged men. Tell me something. If I am supposed to write what I know, then how in the world would I be able to create a believable old man? My 24 years of life experience pales in comparison to what he would have under his belt. Yet, I write these characters. I write about Beduins, Gypsies, magic, Blue Blood, Dwarves, Giants, seniors and infants, warriors and vandals, Mystics and Gods. I write from the point of view of animals, villains and heroes, High Priests, mythical creatures, and even the elements. I am none of these things. I am a writer. It is my passion to create worlds. When I say that I write fiction, I mean it in the purest sense. I create my own worlds. How boring of a world would that be if I only wrote what I knew?

For those of you out there who are getting your feet wet, don’t let anyone stifle your creativity. Write whatever you want. When it comes from the deepest corners of your soul, it has no choice but to be amazing.

Until next time…

-Darby