Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking for Character Depth?


Characters are reflected in their actions and thoughts. But let's think around the box, the box being the inner workings of our character. Okay, let's dip into the box a little as we think about characterization.

Here's some think-fodder:
1. Clothing. Designer brands, thrift shop or frumpy. Colors--vibrant, prints, black. Shoes: Italian, hiking boots, worn joggers with knotted laces, flats, pumps, loafers, scuffed or highly polished, heels worn or not.

2. Jewelry: None or some or fully decked. Why? Gift from a loved one, a trinket given as a personal award, or worn as protection (there are many amulets in jewelry), or This Goes With This Outfit.

3. Cars or bikes: Mountain bikes or English Racers, girls or boys, discount brand or used or spiffy and personally fitted. Cars: budget, new, dented, worn seats, high brand, SUV or compact gas saver. Tires, worn, etc. You get the picture.

4. Speech Patterns: Regional traces, foreign language, hesitant, polished, terse or use of idioms, or unable to correctly state familiar sayings.

The previous three say much about the character's personal choices. About why they made those choices. So if they are choosing for looks, what do they see in their mirrors and what kind of mirrors do they prefer anyway?

All good stuff. But there's the peripheries that I love....

1. Those mirrors. Framed and ornate or plain budget and where do they hang. What does the character see when he/she inspects their morning reflection. It's Michael Jackson's Man in the Mirror time. Being honest time when no one else is around, i.e. Who am I really? Delve deep into this mirror.

2. This leads us to Things, much like specially chosen jewelry above, for remembrances. A hand drifting across a smooth wood can lead the character into a loving thought of how it was fashioned with a grandfather's gnarled hands, beadwork by a mother now deceased. Anger for the drunk driver who took away her life, the firm promise that beadwork placed on her grave when the killer is caught.

But here's the big scoop...Moving Onward in the peripheries: How do other people react to the character. (See the dinosauer above? Almost friendly isn't he? But me thinks he grins too much.

What friends want to be near this person, or stay away and why. Do they touch or hug or do that male shoulder-punching thing, fist to fist whatever? Does their body language reflect tension or anger and coldness.

Animals: Great insights to characters. How do animals respond to the character? How does the character respond to animals?

Children: Some people automatically draw children and make them feel safe. Others don't.

SIDEKICKS: Subcharacters shore up the main characters and cannot say enough about Sidekicks or lack there of when it comes to characterization.

Think of characterization in the latter instances as the character in the center of a reflecting pattern of people, children, pets revolving around said character and physically demonstrating how they feel about that character.

"We are what friends we choose." How many times have you heard that? But in writing, what if we aren't?

Do consider the character reflection in the latter's reaction to the character.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Why, Oh Why?

  Yesterday, I attended a local writers' meeting. Naturally, 'tis the season discussion of the annual Christmas party came up. Limit set on gifts, all important, also a silent auction. Suitable items were discussed.

Well. To me, books are always good, used if the price isn't a match to the limit. Or something that writers could use, i.e. pens, paper and pads. Erasers, even. Magnifying glasses, sticky notes. All good necessary items that writers must have on supply.

So when did these various auctions turn into yard sale goods that do not apply to the purpose of what writers are supposed to be doing?

BTW, the photo of the big goggle-glasses days AND full set of owie BRACES was one illustrating Signed by Cait labels. I had more fun sticking these labels on backs of those who I knew would laugh. You realize there are people who do not enjoy themselves, don't you? :)

But onward into these auctions and gift-giving to writers at Christmas do's....

This morning, I let my stove-peculator perk too long, thinking about groups and behavior and why I may or might not fit into membership. For instance, there's a thrilling new RWA group, Women's Fiction with real pros headlining it. Their professional conduct should be a standard for all groups. I'm wishing this group well and they're headed off to a great start. Barbara O'Neal is acting Wise Woman, and she's a 5X RITA recipient as Ruth Wind and Barbara Samuels, I believe.

Now as for Christmas gifts for writers: I stock up during the year for Christmas, taking advantage of sales. But I also handcraft some items, if that's what you can call jam making, apple butter, breads, etc., plus some sewing you can see at my other blog, My Jam Jar.

With 2010 coming up, I also spend time at the end of the year making my New Year's To-Do. My list is lengthy, but right there is a writers' gift idea: A small holder big enough for index cards. Write out those To-Dos, date them and update them. Index cards are great gifts, so are notebooks and pens, printer paper, stationery, envelopes, whatever. In this economy, we are all watching our pennies, so why not give something useful to a writer?

Also VistaPrint offers a free membership newsletter which has freebies galore. So does their website. By stocking up on these freebies, you've got some nice gifts at Christmas time, and personalized if for family and friends.

I'm thinking of posting a whole load of URLs here for useful writers' tips as my gift to you. Meanwhile, do check my Writer's Survival Guide category.

Prominent on that list for writers would be Twitter and Facebook. This because of all the media work now, the ability to reach out and network. I am learning tremendous things from neat involved, business people like Lorelei King, voice actor, whose posts and followers led me on to discover other interesting people. (Love audiobooks, you know. After a day on my computer screen, it's a nice end of the day, or makes those long cross-country drives a little shorter.)
Plus agents/writers/publishers and agents are all so available. Recently on Twitter, agents answered questions and it was fascinating for hours on a Friday, I believe.

If you are not on either and you are a writer, you're missing good stuff.

I'll have to work on my Christmas list.
Posted by Picasa