Posted on May 16, 2013 at 8:05 AM
We are often asked if characters should describe themselves at Writers Write. We are asked how they could describe themselves. When we came across this post by Stephanie Orges, we wanted to share some of her ideas with you. (If you want to read the full article, follow the link at the end)
Six Ways First Person Narrators Can Describe Themselves
By Stephanie Orges
1. Don’t describe him at all
Do your readers have to know what the protagonist looks like to understand the plot? If not, consider leaving it out altogether.
2. Give it to your reader straight
If you are actually telling the story with frequent quirky asides to your “dear reader”, your hero can simply describe himself during introductions. But be warned: don’t try to force it if this isn’t your style.
3. Embarrass them
Make them self-conscious about a physical flaw. She only smiles close-mouthed because she’s embarrassed by the gap in her teeth. He wishes he had biceps like the head jock.
4. Compare and contrast with another character
‘My daughter has my crooked smile, but her father’s blue eyes’. These can even create a poetic effect, as you can simultaneously compare and contrast personality traits as well.
5. Use dialogue
Her best friend gently explains dark roots are out of fashion. His father remarks he really ought to cut his hair (he looks like a hippie). Her enemy asks if she’s a natural redhead. Use compliments and nicknames.
6. Show, don’t tell
If they are short, have them struggle to reach something most others could get. If tall, have them duck through doorways. If they are unattractive, make them self-conscious around people of the opposite sex. Your hero’s appearance is reflected in the way other characters react to it.
Read the full article: Source
Source for Image
Awesome advice here! More helpful tips on describing first person narrators can be found in Literary Criticism, the Mirror Cliche, and Describing a First-Person Narrator.
Posted on May 15, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Romance is a popular genre, but it’s often handled quite badly. Relationships that would be unhealthy - even abusive - are frequently treated as normal, even desirable. So, here’s a list to help you avoid some common pitfalls.
Make sure the characters have something in common.
Infatuation (AKA “love at first sight”) is great for drawing people together, but it’s not what keeps them together - there will come a point when basking in each others’ beautiful presences just won’t be enough. Make sure your characters have some interests or goals they share - eg, Marie and Pierre Curie shared a passionate love of science and enjoyed working together.
…But don’t make their interests exactly alike.
Make sure your characters have some interests they don’t share, and indeed enjoy doing apart. Having lives that completely revolve around each other is rather unhealthy.
They should act comfortable around each other.
Unless they’re early in their relationship, they should not be afraid to just be themselves, nor worry too much whether they’re saying the “wrong” thing in front of the other. If your characters are practically at the altar, yet one of them is fretting over whether what xe said will go over badly, there’s something wrong.
They should not ignore friends from before.
Sure, new relationships will take up some time, but don’t have your characters completely or almost completely stop hanging out and doing things with old friends.
They should not feel particularly jealous or threatened when the other talks to or hangs around with someone else.
Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure. (Or: infographics I want to hug.)
Graphic by Eduardo L. Lozano
Ugh so pretty
(via writeworld)Posted on May 14, 2013 at 8:48 AM
Anonymous asked: > I am having trouble with the way all my characters talk < I already have tips on accents, so that is not what I am looking for. But they basically all talk the same way in a not-so-constant manner and there is not deference in speech than voice.
For some writers, dialogue comes naturally. It’s a gift often taken for granted, and when you don’t have it, dialogue can be the hardest part about writing. There are a few things you can do, however, to develop your skill and allow your characters to speak in their own unique voices.
- Eavesdrop. Listen to everyone. Go out in public and write down snippets of conversation you hear. (Coffee shops are particularly useful in this respect, since it’s not uncommon to see people with notebooks or laptops.) Note speech patterns — does one person tend to speak in fragments? Is there a rhythm to their speech? Listen to two or more people having a conversation and note the differences in the way each person speaks. Listening to real people will allow you to better understand real dialogue.
- Know who your characters are. A nuclear physicist educated at MIT will probably speak differently than a high school cheerleader from Nebraska. What demographic do your characters fall into? How old are they? Where are they from? This isn’t just about accents — someone from Kentucky will use different language than a Bostonian. Are they educated? What are their occupations? Who are they speaking to? From the vocabulary to the tone to the actual content of the conversation, the way people speak to their parents is normally different than the way they speak to their friends which is different from the way they speak to their teachers or bosses or enemies or customers or strangers on the train and on and on. People, it turns out, are complicated, and their speech patterns should reflect that.
- Read it out loud. It always helps when you can hear your dialogue, rather than simply seeing it on a page. As you’re writing, say the dialogue out loud. If it doesn’t sound like your character, try something else. Contractions, slang, word omissions, and colloquialisms allow speech to sound more natural, and these distinctions separate diagonal from the surrounding prose.
- Note the style of your action. If your writing resembles Catcher in the Rye and your main character is a teenage boy, your dialogue is probably going to sound a lot like the action surrounding it. And that’s okay. If, however, your writing reminds you of James Joyce and you’re writing about a homeless man in Albuquerque, your character’s speech and your voice should be different.
Here are a couple exercises that you can do for practice:
- Write a short piece that is dialogue only without any indicators of who is speaking other than the dialogue itself. This will force you to look at the different ways your characters speak.
- Fanfiction. (Ignoring the stigma around it, it’s an invaluable tool to improving dialogue.) Take two characters that you’re familiar with and have them talk to each other. Can you hear their personality in their voices? It helps if the characters aren’t too similar, but still work well together. Think Spock and Kirk.
- Write down a real conversation you’ve had with someone. Once you have the dialogue established, add action and description. Pulling from reality can help you determine what sounds realistic.
And here are some more resources you might want to check out:
- The Passion of Dialogue
- 25 Things You Should Know About Dialogue
- Dialogue Writing Tips
- How to Write Believable Dialogue
- Writing Dialogue: The Music of Speech
I hope this helps!
Hey guys, I wrote another thing for WriteWorld.Posted on May 10, 2013 at 8:56 AM
Study guides, quick reference charts, history timelines, photocopiable PDF handouts, classroom posters, and more. Great for visual learners.
(Source: zhen4ik)Posted on May 8, 2013 at 11:10 AM
nothingcanbegained asked: I have a character I roleplay, but I feel lately like every time I roleplay him, that I find that he’s just too… perfect? I mean he’s gentle mannered, polite, shy, honest, helpful, eager to please without being overbearing, easily embarrassed, and quite honestly, I’m finding him boring. How do I make a character more exciting without changing who he is? Should I try and add personality faults that can be directly related to his traits?
As writers, it’s easy to let our characters fall into the dreaded Mary Sue trope. But you’ve already realized the problem with too-perfect characters: they’re boring. They offer little conflict, they’re unrealistic, and they tend to drive everyone a little crazy.
Faults and vices are one of the easiest ways to add depth to your character. They make your character seem more like a person, rather than the stock character or flat character we see lining the edges of fiction stories. Here are some steps you can take to round out your character:
- Look at other characters that fit your description: Peter Pettigrew from Harry Potter, Mary Bennet from Pride & Prejudice, Iris from The Holiday, C3PO from Star Wars, etc.. What makes these characters well-rounded? What makes them interesting? Look at the way their faults build on their more positive attributes.
- Like you already suggested, pick a couple flaws that fit in with his established character. Based on your description, try something like self-doubt, inability to trust, or jealousy. Put him into a situation where the flaw comes into play. Maybe he overhears someone talking about him, or he is faced with a task that’s too much for him to handle. Play with it, and see where he takes you. Regardless of the positive traits he has, test drive your character making the wrong decision—a decision outside of his normal response or even outside of his moral code—in order to create more conflict for him and broaden his development..
- Take one of his attributes and make it “too much.” If he’s honest, does that mean that he’ll always speak his mind to the point that he offends others? Does he say exactly what others don’t want to hear? Take “gentle mannered, polite, and shy” and turn it into ”easily manipulated.” ”Easily embarrassed” could become “ashamed.” There is always a negative slant on a positive characteristic. The possibilities are endless.
- What is he passionate about? Give him something to fight for—maybe it’s a romantic interest, a place, an ideal, or even an opinion. What happens when that thing is threatened?
- Because you’re part of an RP, you have a unique advantage. Talk to your RP partner/group. Have them challenge you by putting your character into situations that are uncomfortable for him. Have them ask tough questions. How does he react to confrontation?
- Characters, like people, should change and grow. There’s no reason why he has to stay the way he is now.
Here are some other resources you can check out:
- Write World: Choosing Virtues and Vices for Your Character
- Write World: Layering Virtues and Vices
- TVTropes: Character Flaw Index
- TVTropes: Avoid Writing A Mary Sue
- WritePop: Character Flaws
- Superhero Nation: How to Make a Boring Character Interesting
- Clay Held: The Trick to Writing Compelling Characters (and How to Avoid Boring Ones)
Hey guys, I wrote a thing for WriteWorld.Posted on May 7, 2013 at 2:09 PM
As writers, most of us would admit to sometimes stifling our own potential because we’re afraid to fail at something new. In fact, most people can say that about their lives in general. But, because we are creative people, we have to expect more of ourselves than the status quo. But that expectation isn’t just limited to our lifestyles; we have to see new places, meet new people, and pursue new experiences—but we also have to push ourselves to try new things in the writing itself.
If you never experiment with your style, you’ll only ever be capable of what you’re already good at today. We’re hoping that you won’t be satisfied with just what you do well at this moment, but that you’ll try some of the following suggestions and push yourself to new heights in your writing…
(via writeworld)Posted on May 7, 2013 at 7:53 AM
I think I need to start posting original content. Is there anything anyone would like to see?Posted on May 3, 2013 at 8:23 AM
I Promise I’m Not a Murderer: The Story of a Researching Writer
now with a sequel:
I Swear I’m Not Pregnant, I’m Just Naming Characters
Don’t forget: I’m not Trying to Break Into This Building, I Just Need to Know the Layout of it
(via silverandcrimson)Posted on May 1, 2013 at 1:22 PM
—― Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (via thetinhouse)
(via writeworld)Posted on May 1, 2013 at 8:29 AM