Monday, July 18, 2011

Characters...Characters...Characters...

Hi everyone! It's time to talk about writing. Specifically, our characters. I went to a fabulous workshop conducted by Amy Koss several weeks ago. I'm going to be recapping everything over the next few posts, but one thing in particular really stood out for me...

Use character traits to "show" your characters.

In particular, use the main attributes of the characters to show, rather than tell, the story. For example, if your character is "lazy", don't describe him as lazy. Instead have him speak and move and act in a lackadaisical way.

I know, nothing new here. This is stuff we have heard. But honestly, it is NOT something I do as well as I could.

To help "teach" the point, Amy had us make a list of our primary and secondary characters in a current WiP. We then had to come up with one or two words to describe the main attributes of the character. She suggested having this list written or printed where we could refer to it often as we revise our manuscripts.

Wow! What a powerful exercise. I have to say, this simple process has not only helped me maintain my characters voices in my current projects, but it has also really helped be zero in on my characters.

Here is a sample of my list for my current project, TRANSCEND:
Ien - submission, insecure
Erik - confident, dominating
Katherine - controlling, scared
Kiera - untouchable, free
James - loyal
Sister Anne - passively controlling, illusive

This list literally lives on a 3x5 card I pull out as I revise. It is a godsend, trust me.

Try it out for yourself and let me know what you discover.

7 comments:

  1. Cool tip and thank you for sharing. :-) I make Character sheets before I start my story. I do this so I can 'meet' the people and know them better. But I've never thought of putting down one or two traits on a card and use it for revisions. LOL, but I do have a 'said' list that I have for my editing. It is an ever growing list that has words like bemoaned, muttered, whispered, yelled, and much more. Unfortunately I am the queen of 'said' and abuse the word every chance I get. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. i will be doing this more often. i always feel i know my characters to well that you forget that it's not enough just knowing about them but being able to put them on paper by showing and not telling. i hope i am making sense. thanks for this post, now a loyal stalker of this blog http://theseven-piecestone.blogspot.com.... visit my blog if you dare, lol

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sometimes it's the simple tools that work the best! I love this idea, because like you I KNOW this, but implementing it is sometimes an altogether different beast! But this tool is so easy even I could do it!

    Thanks Chrisitne! (and Amy Koss!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post. This is a great idea. I struggle with fully realizing my characters, so maybe this will help me. Thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love this idea! It's simple and useful. Will have to try it out. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is awesome! I love how you put it on an index card as a reminder while you revise. Brilliant!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your input!