Scroll down to watch on YouTube!   That Old Adage Understanding how your fictional characters react is essential to  making them three-dimensional. There is an old adage that says it’s not the situation you face but how you deal with it that defines character. The idea is that 10% of life is what happens and 90% is how we react to it. It’s about our response mechanisms. Are we fight or flight? What is our attitude when faced with adversity? Or how about when we’re faced with a surprise, success, or something else that warrants an emotional response?  Passing the Buck or Taking Control A lot of people are quick to pass the buck when it comes to responsibility for their actions. The attitude of fatalism with these types of people—and with that comes acceptance of the inevitable. These people are at the mercy of their circumstances.  For others, the idea that they have control within the situations they face. …

Character Development: How do your characters react? Read more »

Getting to know your fictional characters, inside and out, is crucial I’ve decided to change up the Writing Prompt process. I’m a goal-oriented person. Writing prompts are meant to get the creative juices flowing, however, they can also become a means to an end. When I first started writing, I used prompts to spark ideas. Before long I had a single character I tended to write about. Then she had a family. And a town. And on and on and on… So what we’re going to do is to create a character first. Then from there, you’ll use this character in each prompt posted. You can do things your own way Now, of course you do not have to do it this way. You can change the character you write about. It’s your writing. You can do whatever you want! The purpose of this approach, though, is to help you create actual scenes using your character.  Before long, you’ll have …

Getting to know your Fictional Characters Read more »

Crafting Stories or Baking a Cake? I often compare the crafting of a story to cooking or baking. You have a set of ingredients, and when put together in just the right way, you end up with a delicious curry or the tastiest chocolate cake. If you miss an ingredient, the whole dish can taste different or not work at all.   The Character is the Main Ingredient With writing fiction, the main ingredient is character—all the active characters. To create a compelling story, you need the rest of the ingredients: the points of the hero’s journey the protagonist is on; the plot; the setting;  tone; mood; point of view; dialogue; and voice.  But, again, it really ALL comes down to character. Today we’re going to delve into one method of character development that’s fun and sort of a mix and match activity. One of the most important parts of creating fictional characters is making sure they’re realistic. One way …

How to Create Fictional Characters Read more »

Characters are at the Heart of the Story Characters are at the heart of every story. Without a strong hero, a book is often forgettable. This is why series are so popular. People come back not for whatever mystery or crime Stephanie Plum will be tackling, but because they love Stephanie herself. And Lula. And Grandma Mazur. And Joe. And Ranger. These characters become so familiar, it’s like they are our friends. Jack Reacher. Scrooge. Andy Carpenter. Atticus Finch. Sherlock Holmes. Willy Wonka. Miss Havisham. Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf. Harry Potter. These larger-than-life characters stick with us because they’re so brilliantly drawn. They have clear and strong personality traits and goals. Creating Larger-that-Life Characters Creating a larger-than-life character of your own. Start by making a few key decisions: Gender Identity Age One word to describe temperament (shy, boisterous, angry, compliant…) What does this character want more than anything? Make the stakes high!  Prompt: Write a scene which SHOWS what your character …

Characters are the Heart of the Story Read more »

We’re wrapping up our Writing Prompt series on SETTING by looking at the connection between character and setting. Setting gives the reader a world to visualize. It’s grounding. It creates mood and tone. In Gone With the Wind, for example, Atlanta is almost a character. So it Tara. These locations provide much more than just the name of a city or property. They provide context for what’s happening in the story, and they provide an emotional connection between the character and place. It’s a true relationship. As such, settings can give insight into a character. Scarlett’s connection to Tara and her desire–nay, determination–to save it shows quite a lot about her stubbornness, here doggedness, her resilience, and her grit. Prompt:  Write a scene which shows an emotional connection between your character and a specific setting in their world.

Using Dialogue to Convey Setting Setting in a story can be given through description (see Writing Promp #3). Last time we talked about creating setting through description. Today, we’re still looking at setting as a way to convey a story’s time and place, but this time, we’re using dialogue.   Why? Because setting doesn’t have to only be conveyed through description. People talk. And they talk about the weather. Where they live. Where they’ll be visiting. They use description to paint pictures of these places, but they do it through dialogue.You can also use dialogue to effectively convey setting. JK Rowling is one of many authors who use dialogue to convey setting.   An Example from Harry Potter In this brief example, Hagrid is taking Harry from the Hut on the Rock to Diagon Alley, and he’s describing Gringotts. “Why would you be mad to try and rob Gringotts?” Harry asked.  “Spells — enchantments,” said Hagrid, unfolding his newspaper as he …

Using Dialogue to Convey Setting Read more »

Setting is a story’s time and place. You cannot have a story without setting. Setting grounds the entire narrative.  In books, setting can be very overtly or explicit given to the reader, or it can be alluded to through descriptions of clothing, architecture, weather, topography, and other environmental elements. When we think of TIME, a story can be set in the present, the past, or the future. In SciFi and fantasy stories, there are alternate realities. This idea goes a bit beyond time and place, so we can include alternate realities in our definition. So, SETTING conveys: Time (past, present, future, as well as Alternate Reality) Place, which can be a wide-lens view or a planet, a country, a city, and/or it can move into a close-angle view of a city or town, a home, or even the inside of a building or vehicle or single room Prompt: Today’s writing prompt is about creating the wide lens view of a …

Writing Prompt #3: A Place You’ve Lived-Urban; Rural; Mountains; Beach… Read more »

When you think of a scene, consider starting with a wide angle lens first. Capture the bigger setting. Once you’ve done that, you can move in closer and closer and closer until you introduce the character and the conflict. Think about it like this: A movie starts. First, the director shows stars twinkling in the dark blanket of the universe. Next, we see a rocket ship hurtling across the expanse. Finally, we see the inside of that rocket ship. It’s only after we see all that that the director introduces us the character(s) inside. We already went through a memory exercise to get the juices flowing, Now let’s pan back out. The kitchen is in a house. The house is in a neighborhood. The neighborhood is in a town. So let’s start there.  Prompt: Describe the town in which the house with the kitchen exists, If you descibed your childhood kitchen, then now is the time to describe your childhood …

Writing Prompt #2: A Place You’ve Lived-Your Town Read more »

Everybody lives somewhere. When we look back on our childhood home, it’s common to feel uninspired by it. After all, it was jut the place we lived. Nothing exciting there, right? If I asked you to describe the kitchen in your childhood house, how detailed can you be? Close your eyes and try to visualize it. Use the five senses, What color are the walls? What smells do you remember? What do the counters look like? Are they tile with grout lines? Hard wood? Formica? Is there a favorite meal that was prepared there? What sound does the dishwasher make? How about the singing tea kettle on the stove? Prompt: Now describe this kitchen using as much detail as possible. Summon up memories that have been tucked away in the recesses of your mind. Once you begin writing, you’ll be surprised at what resurfaces! If this doesn’t inspire you, describe the kitchen in the photo, or your dream kitchen!