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Discussion in 'Literature' started by Miss Lockheart, Nov 29, 2008.
Ah, more famous teaching from Miss Lockheart. Very informational.
Any suggestions for the next masterclass? I want to do one next week when I'm back from break
hm. . . maybe your next masterclass should have a little bit on
Organizing and Character development. I suck on that. . . :rikusad:
Hmmmm I could work with that leave it with me I'll do my best to put a tutorial together that will be of some help
These are very good! They are very helpful, especially the 'PDQ' formula (or 'PEE' as I know it), as this can be quite hard to grasp sometimes, especially if you have an idea which you've already decided on; the organization becomes tricky.
I look forward to the next installment!
Right, I'm gonna do the tutorial on characterization and character development next, since I'm strapped for time my tutorials will probably be very slow in coming but do keep watching ^^
Very well done Miss L. This will be very useful, especially in a few weeks. There is something I have in mind of doing and this will help greatly. But not to me. You will soon see what I mean
Wow this is only lesson number 3? I thought I'd done more than that >.<
But this is a big one I guess. Today we're going to talk about characterization. Oh yes. Technique is very useful, but without the correct amount of imagination to fuel your technique your writing just won't grab people's attention. Characterization tends to be a very personal thing, coming from a writer's personal experiences or perhaps a personification of someone or something from their past, thrown into the mix of their story. Wherever the ideas come from, it's important to look at a character from every angle and know exactly how to portray that character in a way that's interesting and that makes the reader feel like they almost know this fictional person. Readers want to know what the character looks like, their habits and features, their thoughts, their feelings. They want to experience their emotions in full detail, and live out their actions with them. I can't stress how important good characterization is whether it's for writing or RPG.
This is part 1 of the tutorial, with part 2 following shortly afterwards as I'm strapped for time >.<
So how the hell do you go about creating a good character? My first tip would be to think about the personality of the character you want to create, as that will influence everything else about him/her. It's the easiest place to start as writers often have in mind a couple of "types" of characters that they want to include in their story, or build a world around. Let's look at some descriptive words regarding personality-Cheerful, Lighthearted, Spirited, Passionate, Cold, Vicious, Manipulative, Shielded, Emotional, Stubborn, Pragmatic, Thoughtful.
It's advisable that you don't overload your character with personality, or this might confuse the reader, so stick with just a few buzzwords when you make your plans. Write them at the head of every drawing or piece of writing that you make in your doodling stage, keep them in mind as much as you can because they'll have such a big influence over your designs. Now I mention drawing here and I think that's great if you can draw your characters, since that will give you a visual map for your descriptive work throughout your writing. But it's not the end of the world if you can't draw (like me ). Just write as many things as you can, use diagrams if that helps.
2. Distinguishing features
Now that you have a personality you can start to think about your character's little habits and features. These are very important as you can pepper your writing with quirky interesting little movements or facial expressions, any kind of habit your character has that's unique to him/her and that not only adds depth to that character but gives you more to write about in general. However don't over-use these, as the reader will quickly get bored if they're seeing constant fiddling or tons of description just about a person's face. Also they must match with your character's personality- no good giving a cheerful character a twitch or an OCD, because it doesn't fit. Things to choose can include- vocal accent, grinning, hand gestures, twitches, winking, checking the time, OCDs, carrying certain items, grinding teeth, cocking the head, random outbursts.
Distinguishing features can also refer to a specific item or aspect of clothing, hair etc that differentiates your character from all the others. This doesn't necessarily have to relate to a feature or habit, but if it does it can add even more fuel to your storylines. These will also get you thinking about the character's background too- what's the history behind this distinguishing feature? Is there a reason for it? Did something pivotal to the character's development happen involving this? Leads me on quite nicely...
3. Character background and history
Now you will have to start stretching your brains a little bit. If you have a plotline already planned out then it might be a little bit easier, but if not then it's still nothing to worry about. However I have to make clear how important continuity is- if your character's history and background don't match events or places in the story, then you have a big problem. People who have plans should try and pick from them and develop ideas from there, in order to ensure that everything fits. Like a puzzle you see? Those of you who don't have any plans should make sure you write everything down about your character's background to refer to later when creating a storyline. This back and forth might sound tedious but it's crucial. Whatever genre or game you're writing for you want it to be taken seriously by the reader so don't skip on these important points. Eventually if you work hard enough you'll find your ideas form into a web of events which should all tie together nicely.
Take what you already have into consideration too of course. If you've chosen a cheerful character then what kind of area can you imagine them heralding from? A small village or a lonely plateau? What are the other people like that live there, if there are any at all? Does your character have a native accent linking him/her to them? Is there a religion or strict code of conduct? Are they peaceful or bloodthirsty? That should help you think up a history for your character. Perhaps also you could think about whether their personality changed at all during their history or the time between the past and present. Also try and plan early for how often and whenabouts in your story these flashes of the past are going to reveal themselves. Remember readers like to learn lots about their favourite character, but they also like mystery and suspense too. Once you have the heavier aspects of background planned out you can think of some fun and quirky things to add. Were there any humorous events? Did your character have any hobbies or side interests? There's lots of scope. This will probably be the longest part of your character planning so do spend as much time as you can on it.
Part 2!!! ^^
A huge chunk of your descriptive work will be centered around appearance. And that's not just aesthetic either- it's about the way your character dresses, the way they hold themselves (posture etc), their hair and much much more. If you've followed the other steps in the order given you should start to have some very solid ideas about this now. So bring them all together and create a look and demeanor for your character. As mentioned before, this can be done either through reference drawings or written plans.
Written plans are especially helpful in honing your descriptive skills. You can start to think of all the ways you can paint a picture of your character using words. Start to be inventive with your vocabulary and sentence structure. The best ways to do this are to think of many adjectives to fill out lines describing an action or expression. Be sure to get the balance right though- not too much, not too little. Having a dictionary and a thesaurus on hand can really help you to find new and interesting ways of describing an aspect of your character. For example-
Gaia ran her fingers through his black hair.
This is a good start because it uses the colour description to fill out the sentence. But is there another way you can portray the colour black? Try this-
Gaia ran her fingers through his ebony hair.
Ebony is really just black, but it's an exotic way of describing it. Readers love that. It's a simple but effective trick and it's much less boring than merely using the word black. You can apply this as many times as you like, as long as you remember not to overuse adjectives in general. Also it might be nice to choose one descriptive word and stick with it, as a theme for your character. For example if your character has black hair and it's a feature of him/her or it's an important point in the story, then use a word such as ebony each time you refer to that character.
Now that your character is fully formed, you can start to use him/her! Up until now we've focused a lot on character design, and the clever ones among you will be wondering how this all leads to good characterization. But how can you characterize without a character? You have lovingly and thoughtfully created that person, and now that you've taken the time to think hard about him/her and cover every single aspect of their being, you will know them very well and probably be much more inspired. This will make characterization itself a cinch. Put your character through his/her paces, see where they go through your writing. Remember to think through his/her eyes, and take all their aspects into account when writing about a reaction to a situation or a thought process. If your character has any combat or magic skills, you can play on their personality whilst describing the way they use them.
It's also helpful to think about how more than one character would relate to each other. Is there a camaraderie? Do they hate each other's guts? Lone characters can be very easy to pull off because there isn't the extra work of making them interact, but it can make for a very flat story. Contrasting characters brushing up against each other or having to work in a team can make for good development, both in their personalities and in the story.
Descriptive work should always be well balanced. Don't panic and pack as much in as you can, or say too little especially if it's an important part of your story. Use your vocabulary and grammar to make it exciting. Think of it as icing on a cake- if you use too much the cake gets sickly, if you don't use enough the cake is really boring. Also having good quality icing makes all the difference.
Well that about sums it up, I'll try and dig up some useful resources on the web for you guys in relation to today's tutorial (it'll have to be tomorrow though, I'm tired now XD) and remember to post any questions you have here. Also once again I'm taking requests for topics you'd like to see a tutorial for. Thanks for taking the time to read this
Thanks Sam, you are my savior