Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Deepening Characters - part three

I hope everyone benefitted from last week's assignment. Of course, doing this kind of exercise may not help every writer, but the more we delve into our characters' minds and thoughts, the move alive they will be on the page.

I have another exercise for you. This particular exercise helped me learn more about my villian, which added depth to the story. My mentor asked us to write a conversation between our protagonist (mine is Akeela) and antagonist (Tzmet) and use ourselves as the moderator. Begin with a question for both of them. Here's what mine looked like:

Pam: Why don’t you band together and work to make the land and people prosperous?

Tzmet: There is no point to this discussion. I refuse to align myself with this uppity child.

Akeela: You don’t even know me.

Tzmet: I don’t have to. My father’s plan is perfect! Why should I deviate from it just to make you happy?

Pam: Okay, you guys, why don’t we just look at the possibility. That doesn’t mean we have to do it.

Tzmet: Hah!

Akeela: Please, Tzmet. Talk to me. I know about you, how things were when your father was alive –

Tzmet: My father is still alive! Blood worms and swamp grass, why am I even talking to you?

Akeela: Maybe you owe me.

Tzmet: What could I possibly owe you?

Akeela: You killed my father.

Tzmet: Such a lie. I don’t even know your father.

Pam: We’re getting off the subject. Let’s list some advantages to working together, okay?

Akeela: In the battle at Tindan. You killed every man, woman and child there. The only reason I am alive is because Krezma saved me.

Tzmet: Don’t speak that woman’s name to me!

Pam: Guys, come on.

Akeela: Okay, let’s talk about working together.

Tzmet: Please. It will do no good.

Akeela: Maybe it will. I mean, let’s look at what we can do. I can talk to fairies. I can also see auras around living things. That could maybe help with communication between villages.

Tzmet: And why would we want to communicate between villages?

Akeela: What if someone needs help?

Tzmet: Such tender mercy! What will it get you but a bruised heart and lighter purse? People who need will take advantage of you every time.

Akeela: Did that happen to you?

Tzmet: Shut up, you vile creature!

Pam: Maybe we should keep the name calling to a minimum.

Akeela: Combining our strengths can only benefit us. Think about it. You can still live in your castle and you won’t be afraid.

Tzmet: What?

Akeela: You can have the freedom to come and go without people being terrified of you.

Tzmet: I like that. People being scared of me, that is.

Akeela: And you won’t have to be alone. You would have friends.

Tzmet: What would I need friends for?

Akeela: Everyone needs friends.

Tzmet: I’ve never had a friend. Friends betray you. They leave you. They take advantage of you and bleed you dry. I will not show weakness in this way.

Akeela: I’m sorry for you.

This is where I found out my villian was lonely. As you can imagine, it changed the way I handled her. Now, it's your turn. Write the conversation and let us know if you discovered anything or how it helped you.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Deepening Your Characters, part two

Real characters keep the reader reading. If they don't care about the characters, they probably won't want to finish the book. Last week, we started to learn how to do this with some basic rules. Now, I have an assignment for you to complete. It's only part of what you can do, but this will get you started. I'll add to it next week.

Answer these questions:

Who is your protagonist?

What is his/her obvious need as the story opens?

What is the protagonist’s hidden need?

What are you trying to get across in the book?

What is the message in one word?

What is a question about the word?

What is the answer to that question?

Where in the Bible can you find an example of this?

The answer to the question is your protagonist’s hidden need. He/she must come to this conclusion.

In the first quarter of the book, you need to make the reader care about the characters. Your characters must engage the reader by what is happening to them and how they feel about it.

Next week, we'll find out even more about our characters with another part to the assignment. Remember, knowing your characters deeply will enhance your writing. It will also help if you are blocked.

Let us know if you found out anything you may not have known with this small exercise. Let me know if it's helped in any way.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Deepening your Characters

Since we have some new readers, let's talk characters again. Fantasy characters are a bit different from other characters. You may have heard it said characters need to be 3D. I would argue fantasy characters need to be 4D. No matter what, our characters need to be real, alive, interesting, believable. How can we do this?

Here are some rules to get you started. Next week, I'll share an exercise to help you really deepen your characters.

6 rules for characters
*Make them suffer (not random)
*Allow their attempts to reach the goal to fail during the course of the story
*Despite the successes, get them to a place of no return
*Consider forcing the protagonist to question their assumptions (am I doing the right thing? Maybe there’s another way to believe.)
*Provide tension on every page (any kind, excitement, fun, or not)
*Give your characters qualities that sometimes serve them well and sometimes don’t

Let's talk character development!