Tag Archives: creating characters

Turn a Childhood Memory into Fiction

Many of us started out writing stories based on childhood happenings:  being picked on by a bully, feeling left out, falling off a rope swing, getting a pony, getting bucked off a pony.  (Hey, there’s got to be someone else out there that got bucked off a bazillion times, too.) The problem comes when the story gets stuck in our past and doesn’t gain a life of its own. The process tends to work something like this: Think of a fun or traumatic incident. Write it in story form. Fictionalize it by changing names, places, how many siblings, etc. Try to make the opening more exciting. Realize it’s lacking something. Try to add conflict.  Maybe even add a friend or sibling who wasn’t actually there. Take a bigger chance and change the dialogue or action to what you wish you said or did, instead of what actually happened. Give it … Continue reading

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Begin at the Beginning – a Plotter Tries Being a Pantser

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? The beginning or the end?  When you write a story, do you start by knowing the characters and the opening, and then write to see where it takes you? (Option 1, writing by the seat of your pants, or Pantser)  Or do you start with the characters, the situation and the ending, and write to get there? (Option 2, plotting the story in varying degrees, or Plotter)  For the first time, I’m experimenting with Option 1, being a Pantser. Well, not exactly the first time. My mind usually percolates a situation, character and end, and I build the plot and the character together until they work.  What-ifs can show up – I definitely don’t outline everything – but I’m still writing to meet the ending I’ve envisioned.  It just works best for me. For NaNoWriMo one year, I did try writing … Continue reading

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6 Ways Your Friends Can Help You Write

Friends can be stumbling blocks to your writing:  interruptions, temptations & invitations, not to mention occasional put-downs and other negatives.  But your friends can also further your writing, whether they know it or not! 1.  Borrow your friend’s mannerisms or quirks to make a character come to life. Does she wear heavy jewelry or too much make-up?  Finger a locket when she thinks of an old boyfriend?  Does he have a horse laugh?  Tell hilarious stories that begin with, “but that’s not really how it was?”  Does she jump high, punch the air, or do the hokey-pokey when she’s excited?  Use judiciously, though – you want to add characterization, not make your friend the character. 2.  Tell him or her what you really think.  Admit it, there’s that one thing you’d love to say, but you value your friendship too much to really let loose.  So give your characters the … Continue reading

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Discovering Characters

I don’t like character trait worksheets.  Yes, I know that you need to know your characters backwards and forwards, but I can’t just make a list out of thin air.  Does she like rap or soft rock? Pizza or steak?  Dog person or cat person? Sleek blonde or frizzy brunette?  If she’s a doctor, is she a surgeon or a radiologist?  Obviously, I need to know some things when I start, but many of these list items don’t matter at the beginning. Instead, I tend to discover my characters as I write.  I may have an image of what they look like, and I may know a few key things about them that pertain to the conflict in the book, but the more I write, the more I discover. There’s a scene in my women’s fiction WIP where the mom goes into the daughter’s room the morning after a confrontation.  … Continue reading

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