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Posts Tagged ‘character’

I’ve been remiss in updating this blog, and even worse, in working on the novel. I was distracted in that I was working to keep one of my New Year’s Resolutions – the resolution to post a minimum of one short story each quarter on my blog.

Sadly, I am a slow, meticulous writer.

Joyfully, I am now free to refocus on the novel.

I invite you to read my newest short story, The Middle Child. The feedback I’ve received to date has been positive, but the thing I’ve noticed most is the frequency in which I’ve heard people say they know someone like my character Heather.

What about you? Do you know someone like Heather? What other feedback do you have on the story?

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I’ve mentioned before, I am a visual person. peperwork

As I do my business development work (writers often have two jobs – one for income; the other, writing, is for pleasure), I spread my pitch points, brochures, introductory letters, and notes over my desk so that I can reference these documents during my conversations with prospects.

If I’m calculating whether or not my family can afford the deluxe vacation or something more economical, I will create excel spreadsheets of the expenditures for the visual I need to make the comparison.

And even though I have created detailed character biographies, as they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and so it is with me in my writing. I peruse the internet in search of the perfect picture of my character, print it, and make it available as I write. Sometimes I can just look at the picture, and know that my character would never do what I was about to have them do, or vice-versa, that they would actually take it a step further.

In my last posts, I talked about using questionnaires to develop character, and describing character through actions (showing) versus narative (telling). Observing people in public places can also be helpful. What other ideas or methods are there in creating and developing meaningful and real characters?

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More on Characters

Recently I stumbled upon a blog entry by an Editorial Consultant, Pat Holt, that I found interesting and wanted to share. It’s an article of ten common mistakes in writers’ manuscripts that are also easy fixes.

The points in the article are not new, but worth repeating, as writers often miss these errors simply because they are so close to their manuscript. I particularly like Pat’s instruction to “Show, Don’t Tell,” number 8 in her list, as she relates it to describing character. Showing a character through actions and dialog can conjure up images better than actual narrative description.

I am a visual person. As I read, my mind forms an image of each of the characters. The same with writing. In fact, I have pictures of my characters embedded on their character description forms. I visualize the character, his actions, mannerisms, and gestures, which portends the following question.

When is the right time to describe a character?

Is it when the character is first introduced? How much or how little description is ideal? Is it better to offer descriptive pieces throughout a narrative, revealing fragments of the character intermittently? A twitch, inability to make eye-contact, or gnawed-off fingernails speaks volumes, but is it right to deluge all this information in the character’s first appearance?

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One of the benefits to belonging to a strong writers group is the opportunity to learn and advance in writing techniques. Recently one Humble Fiction Café’ (HFC) writers group member, Kelli Meyer, gave a presentation on character development.

Understanding and knowing who your characters are, what motivates them, and why they do the things they do are important details for any writer. If the writer doesn’t know, how in the world can they convey a fully developed character to the reader?

Some of the questions we have to ask ourselves as writers are:

  • Who is your character?
  • What does your character desire (the real desire)?
  • Why does your character have that desire?
  • How does your character change over the course of the story?

Kelli graciously shared with the group some fabulous questionnaires to complete and build character. Following are three links to character questionnaire forms, but there are numerous other questionnaires and information available online.

Gotham Writers’ Workshop
http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/index.php/PageID/106

The 100 Most Important Things To Know About Your Character (revised)
by Beth Kinderman and Nikki Walker
http://www.geocities.com/poetess47/100questions.html

Elizabeth Terrell
Online Writing Workshop
http://www.elizabethterrell.com/character_questionnaire.htm

For Hope and Faith, I started with a character development form I received from a short story writers’ course given by Glenda Baker of NEWN Magazine, and added/combined questions from some of the forms Kelli provided to create my own questionnaire.

What other resources are there for writers in developing character? As a reader, what is most important to you in character development? When is a character developed enough to feel real?

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