Category Archives: Character

Making True Change–For Good

Change, though I mostly hate it, is good.

Especially if we change who we are into someone better. You just quit smoking? Excellent change! You’ve read a self-help book and now love who you are, even a little bit more than yesterday? Keep going, you’re on the right track! You’re picking up your wet towels so the roaches can’t rest under them? Woot woot! BIG change!

Change is good in our books, too.

I once read a novel that was supposed to be The Next Big Thing. The main character wanted something, and she went out and got it.

The problem was what she wanted. It wasn’t something we shoot for if we want to be happy people. And that’s okay. All characters don’t have to be like me. But this girl, she never really changed going after her weird goal or when she got what she wanted. She was static. Stagnate. Boring.

BORING!

The book flopped because there was no character growth. No moral struggle. No putting herself at risk and overcoming because of her choices.

#46

How does your character change?

Why?

Is this significant? Is it enough?

Did you character get there in a way where she was stretching and growing and becoming new somehow?

Was she at odds with herself, morally, to make these changes?

 

 

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Filed under Character, CLW, writing process

Happy, Happy Birthday, Elise!

#39

Write the perfect birthday party for your main character.

Write the worst birthday party for your main character.

Now, do this exercise for the antagonist and one other character of your choice.

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Filed under Character, CLW, Family

Lose More Weight, No Diet, No Exercise–Even at 35!

Yes! We are now at number thirty five. Who’da thunk?

We have four chickens and a TURKEY.

And I’m going on a walk.

PLUS I’m trying to figure out HOW to make this murder mystery shape up. I have the most of the words. Now I need to put them in order.

#35

This writing prompt requires no pen, no paper, no computer.

Give yourself 30 minutes private time where you just think.

Close your eyes.

Imagine your book, published.

Let the ideas come to you, think about the way the story unwinds, and then think about those trouble spots.

How might you fix them?

What could help?

No need to push or worry or struggle.

Just relax. Imagine that book in your hands.

If you take a nap, who cares? You went to sleep thinking of your novel.

Let your brain work out those troubles while you shower, or nap, or wash dishes.

Envisioning, relaxing, letting your brain help you, all of these things are a pretty cool part of the process of writing. When you finally come upon a fix, it almost feels magical, like the Muse stepped in. But no. It was you.

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Sexy at Thirty Four

# 34

In the center of a blank sheet of paper, write your main character’s name. Circling your main character, write all the people s/he will encounter. Draw a line from that person to your MC.

When you have written everyone, no matter how small the interaction, write a brief description of how your character relates to that person. Are they friends? Enemies? Lovers?

Is it a teacher? The gas station attendant? A sibling?

As you write these relationships, decide if they’re fully formed (or as fully formed as one run-in can develop). Do you need to work on this relationship? How can you flesh these out?

Relationships offer dimension, plot, emotion, life, depth etc. Make sure EACH one in your book is developed.

 

 

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Filed under Character, Life, Plot, Uncategorized

1:23 Monday Morning # 31

I can’t sleep.

If I don’t sleep, my dog, well, he’s parked next to me. Wherever I am.

This is a good ol’ dog. I lucked out when he came into my life.

How about you?

Do you have an important animal in your life?

The girls got me a turkey and four chickens for Easter. They’re kinda cool, too.

 

We can’t forget about great award-winning books for kids with animals in them.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

The One and Only Ivan

Shiloh

Mr. Wuffles! and The Three Pigs

My Friend Rabbit

Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan

Babe and Ace and The Cuckoo Child

I could keep going, but I won’t. Instead, let’s think of

 

#31.

Give your main character a companion that is an animal.

Don’t spend more than ten minutes writing about this pet.

Give a good description, including loyalty traits and then answer this: what would your MC character do without this sidekick?

 

 

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#28, #29

Life is never how we expect it, is it?

I learned long ago to not say, “Things are going well.”

“Hey, we’ve had no real troubles lately.”

“Yup, life’s running pretty smoothly!”

A recipe for disaster, those comments. An invitation to the Universe to look a little more closely at my house.

In writing, there are things our characters shouldn’t say, too. Not because they may pull the heavens down on themselves but because they may lose readers.

“He writes teens like they’re adults. No kids talks like that.”

“She was way too smart. Too political. If felt like the author was talking, not the character.”

“It was like reading the story of a 40-yr-old woman, not a teen.”

“Not one line of dialogue sounded real or had depth.”

“I thought she was a stalker.”

These are all things I have heard about books out there on shelves. Ack! Don’t let that be about my writing, please!

When writing dialogue, you shouldn’t imitate ‘real speech,’ as we are boring. I’ve seen this plenty when teaching, talking to my girls, hanging out with my buddies. Not everything I say is that great, and people wind up with their eyes glazed over.

However, this isn’t a good idea for a writer.

You don’t want people skimming your work, looking only for great kisses or funny lines. You want them to read each word. No eyes glazing over! No 40-yr-old shining through! No political agenda! In writing dialogue, our characters should get to the point. No hemming and hawing. There isn’t time for that in a novel for kids or teens.

Every word must count. Every word should carry weight. No wasted words. None. Dialogue can show who a character is, can reveal information about the story, can move the plot forward and plenty other amazing things–and you should use dialogue for just that.

#28

Look over your dialogue. Is it doing work or is it just a way to fill white space?

Are your characters saying things they never would?

Is the story moving because of the dialogue?

Are you trying to preach through your characters?

Are you letting the story just shine though?

 

#29

Without looking at your work, rewrite a scene of dialogue.  Change the characters so a secondary character is now the MC. How does the dialogue change? Motivation should change the scene.

Wanna read a professional’s dialogue?

Check out the Blossom family by Betsy Byars. We’re reading WANTED . . . MUD BLOSSOM aloud. (Yes, all my kids are grown, but we still read out loud over here. Does wonders for storytelling.)

Hilarious!

Want to learn more? Here’s this great article:

http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/rewriting-the-7-rules-of-dialogue

 

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Filed under Character, Exercises, Uncategorized, writing process

Manic Monday?

#21

Nine Questions We May Explore Later

What is the scariest thing your character must do?

How will you prepare him to do it?

How is your main character like the antagonist?

How does that make the main character feel knowing he’s like the antagonist?

Your main character wants to change one thing about you. What is it?

Why?

What one thing has surprised you about this book?

About your main character?

About you as you’ve written this book?

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Filed under Character, CLW, Exercises, Plot, Revision, writing process