Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Thoughts on Characterization Lecture for CCSA

Elements of Fiction:

Point of View

Writing Prompt:  Two characters want the same physical thing. Write a scene between these two characters. The conflict cannot be resolved. One person cannot surrender the object to the other. They must both continue to want the object. Write this story with a beginning a middle and an end. Don’t bog yourself down with setting up the story with backstory. Simply begin. Begin with the conflict. They can be strangers. They can be friends. Lovers. Friends. Cousins. You decide.  I’ll give you 20 minutes.  Remember the object needs to be physical. Revenge, love, acceptance, forgiveness (and such) are too abstract. 

*Don't Look Ahead*

*I mean it*

*Stop reading*

*It's for your own good*

Fiction Response Sheet

1. What’s something that you liked a lot about the piece, something that you found really successful?

2. When did the conflict between the two characters become clear?

3. Did one character have a stronger motivation for getting the object or did you feel they were equal?

4. Did the scene start at a strong moment? In the middle of action?

5. Was the setting used effectively for this scene?

6. Did the dialogue help develop the characters? Point to one successful moment. 

7. Was the scene satisfyingly resolved?

8. Was there any place in the story where you think an anecdote or small amount of backstory would have helped strengthen one or both of the characters?

9. What’s the most helpful and specific piece of advice you could give the writer of this piece geared toward its revision?

Character Sheet

Making a character tree:

Feet: What are the basic and obvious facts about your character?

What do they look like?
What’s their occupation?
Surface level personal history.
--something embarrassing that has happened to him/her
--an accomplishment
--a failure they’ve suffered
--what is something they’re good at
--what is something

Groin: What your character wants.
Do they want to be liked?
Do they want to be left alone?
Do they want to boyfriend/girlfriend?
Do they want to buy something they perceive as life-changing?

Heart: All they things they need in their life to function. Based on the idea that everybody has a hole in their heart. Where is your character’s hole? What fills it?

These illuminate their flaws.

Throat: External personal. How you project yourself to the world.

Green snakeskin belt.
Mom drinks chai wears green ankle boot.
Hamberg Hoodie.

Left cheek:
How smart is your character?
How do they solve problems?

Right cheek:
What are your character’s ethics?

What is the full picture of this person?
What archetype do they fun under?

Practical questions I ask myself and expect my reader’s to see in the first three chapters.

1. How do they get to school?
Socioeconomic status.
Mobility in their own life.
Level on independence and supervision.

2. What’s her schedule?
3. Can I chart her day on a calendar?
4. What does her week look like?
5. What big assignments does she have coming up?

6. Who are her three best friends?
7. How long of they been friends?
8. How do they hang out?
9. What are their friendship rules?
10. Is there something they collective want?

11. What is the exact age of your character?
12. Where was she born?
13. How many times has she moved?

14. Does your character feel popular or unpopular?
15. Is she happy?

16. Who does she have a problem with?
17. Why?

18. What do her parents do?
19. How does she feel about their jobs?
20. What bothers her about her parents?
21. What are her household responsibilities?
22. What family rituals do they have?
23. If I looked at their photo album, what would I see?
24.Do they have any art in the house?
25. Who was in charge of decorating it?

26. Does your character have a phone? 27. What rules exist for this?
28. What’s most important in my character’s room?
29. Does she want to change anything?
30. How important is her closet?
31. Can I describe what I see in there?
32. Where does she shop? 33. Eat?
34. Does she keep a journal? 35. What does she say in it?

36. Does she have a pet?
37. What are her responsibilities?
38. What would happen if her pet got sick?

39. What are three things your character would never do?
40. Can you make her do one?

41. If she went on a trip where would she want to go?
42. How connected is she to her extended family?
43. Has anything she loved ever died?
44. What’s her level of interest in sports?
45. Does she have any hang ups about her physical appearance?
46. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to her?
47. What’s her greatest accomplishment and thing she’s most proud of.
48. What one word would she use to describe herself.
49. What would she buy in the vending machine?
50. When that doesn’t drop, what’s her second choice?

Who are you quick list?

Favorite food.
Favorite way to waste time.
Favorite daydream.
Favorite person in the story who isn’t her friend.  (Aspirational friendship)
Favorite memory.
Favorite dream.
Favorite article of clothing.
Favorite teacher.
Favorite subject.
Favorite assignment she’s working on.

Reverse it:
Least favorite food.
Activity she hates.
Worst memory.
Least favorite person in the story. Can be a terrible enemy or lightweight pest.
Worst experience so far in her life.
Worst nightmare.
Thing she hates to wear.
Teacher or other authority figure she doesn’t like.
Subject she struggles with.
Assignment she loathes.

These aren’t blanket dislikes. I’m trying to get at her reasoning and personal history. Why does she not like going to Idaho History?


What are the twenty things YOU want most in this world?

What are ten things that your character wants?

Where is there overlap? Do these lines cross?

I always like to have a picture in my posts. Here is something my husband found last week. Wild sprinkler honey. 

And here is a baby praying mantis living on my son's sunflower. It turns its head and looks at me every time I water the plant. 

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