Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Digging Deeper


Years ago, my friend Kathie DeNosky sent me several audio tapes of writing workshops to help set me on the course of someday becoming a published author.  One of them was a workshop done by author Naomi (Susan) Horton.  After listening to The Heart of the Love Story, fireworks went off in my head.  I finally had a handle on conflict.

Many thanks to Ms Horton for the words and information that taught me how to write a story that deserved to be told.  Much of what I'm going to share today and in the weeks to come are from that workshop tape.

As writers, we want readers to fall in love with our stories.  To do that we need to make our characters real to them--as real as they are to us as we're writing them.  It takes a type of magic to do that.  It takes EMOTIONS.
  1. Characters are the key to an emotional story.
  2. Characters only become real when they go beyond being 2-dimensional to become 3-dimensional.
  3. The most important time spent writing is not in the writing itself, but in the time spent working out back story.  Work on this one, and the first two will take care of themselves.
Before you sit down at the computer to pull up your word document program or your manuscript template, you need to get to know your characters almost as well as you know yourself.

You need to learn:
  1. Who your characters are
  2. Why they behave and react as they do
  3. Why they're in this particular story at this particular time
  4. What they want and don't want
  5. What they need and don't need
  6. They're passions, goals, dreams, worst nightmares, etc.
The more you know about your characters, the better you'll be able to portray them as 3-dimensional in your stories.  There are many ways to get to know your characters.  Some people use character interviews, while others use sheets with blanks to fill in for things like hair color, habits, family, and more.  If you're not sure where to start, try one of the suggestions listed in Twelve Ways to Get to Know Your Character, compiled by the Alberta Romance Writers' Association.  Even if you aren't able to find exactly the best way for you, any one of the twelve might jump start a way of looking at your characters so you'll be able to create your own "best way."  If nothing there seems to work, try an internet search using *how to get to know your characters* or *character charts* or even *character traits*.  Another way to get started in learning who your characters are is to take a look at the Kiersey Temperament Sorter or a Meyers-Briggs/Jung test.  Whatever gives you the key to learn the best way for you, go with it.

Over the course of time, we might find that the technique we've been using to get to know and understand our characters isn't producing the results we want.  This can happen with anything, even the shampoo we use!  When it does happen, try something new or brainstorm with a friend.  Sometimes a fresh perspective can generate new ideas.   Above all, remember that making your characters real will give life to your stories.

Next week we'll take a look at CONFLICT and how to find it through MOTIVATION.  Yes, that's right!  Back to the M & C of GMC from a new and different angle.
If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats. ~ Richard Bach

No comments: