Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Trudging Through the Characters

Yesterday, I was in a discussion about plotting novels. One of the things that came up was character generation / concepts. As we all know, having a rich, deep, realistic character that intrigues us as readers is the mechanism that carries us through any story.

Last year, I had the opportunity to go through some workshops and came away with the below 'worksheet' for character creation. The idea behind the below checklist is that you do one step each day, giving yourself time to sleep on the next step (to give it a chance to really set in). I tend to run with the inspiration and knock out multiple steps each day, out of fear of losing important elements.

The down side to the below 'worksheet' is that it is dry and mechanical. The up side is that dry and mechanical inspires the brain to want to escape; allowing for some really creative thoughts to creep up. Use it and let the inspiration blossom!

-- Character Build Period --

Day:    Task:

1.      Character Core: Write 5 (single) sentences about Life Aspects of his / her life.


2.      Each Life Aspects: For each (of five) life aspects, do two things:

A.    Write in 2 Life Experiences.

B.     Write 1 Thought, with 3+ (single) Thought Aspects.

3.      Spin Life Aspects: For each Life Aspect denote one Problem Aspect.

4.      Expand Problem Aspects: For each of the Problem Aspects:

A.    Write in 2 Problem Experiences.

B.     Write 1 Thought, with 3+ (single) Thought Aspects.

5.      Second Character Core: Repeat steps 1 – 4 today for this one.

6.      (Goals) Character 1 and 2: Determine (simultaneously) personal goals.

A.    1 Long-Term goal (for each character).

B.     2 Short-Term goals (for each character).

7.      (Fears) Character 1 and 2: Each of the above goals will have fears and / or obstacles.

8.      Third Character: Now is the time to think in triads. Each of the three characters will conspire from time to time. Ultimately, one character will ascend, one character will stagnate, and one character will fall / fail.

A.    Repeat steps 1-4.

B.     Repeat step 6.

C.     Repeat step 7.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hammering Down A Story Concept

Here it is: October 1st.
This morning, to prep for NaNoWriMo, I picked a framework to write a story. That framework is the Grail Quest of Percival. From that, I plunked in the concepts into my nifty one-page Chapter Theme file, and this is what I got:

(fantasy / contemporary fiction)
Setting / Arc

Present day Wisconsin. It is the end of being a “little kid”. (Planned reading level 9-12)


Being the creative one in middle school (early year, grade 7). Coming of age.

13 Chapters
(Chapter Themes)

C1 Intro hero. Saying goodbye to the only friend. He is raised in the ‘wilds’ by his mother and sister; ignorant of the ‘manly ways’.

C2 (pp1) Main Problem appears (and is misunderstood). “I have to fit in”

C3 The research period.

C4 (pinch) Main Problem challenges hero. Which cliché to choose?

C5 Cleaning up the mess (no / part success)

C6 (mid pt 1) Main Problem goes public. A school event.

C7 (mid pt 2) Main Problem escalates. Tempo change; having to choose between…

C8 Public outcry against escalation and the hero, true friends are defined.

C9 (pinch) Main Problem shatters hero. Can no longer be creative; trashes their work.

C10 Walking through the wasteland, even friends seem distant / uncertain.

C11 (pp2) Main Problem resolution clarified. Receives an email from old friend.

C12 (climax) Everyone back together (even reluctantly, for the common goal).

C13 (mop up) Main Problem overcome. The threat of lost Love / pet results in Erin finding the strength to confront his darkness. Meets the ‘fringe’.

RAMBLE:  “There are a lot of ‘me’ out there; but one of me has to be in charge. I have to have my place… not to let any of the others to dominate. My anchor is my craft. It is my spirit given form. Therefore I must be the knight errant; I must seek out that which is dubious, so that I may understand violence and temptation and therefore reason through it. When I have faced my final fear, will my time here end or will I simply diminish into the obscure? I will trust in and follow my habits, I will pass my judgements and I will illuminate my thoughts and habits as an avatar to those who have no voice. I am truth and I will wander among you. I have been saturated into this body, Emotion, Instinct, Ethics.
Creation, atonements, blasphemy, love & contempt, Desire & Deception, and ultimately Truth… truth found in the embrace of personal responsibility. Not a single event, but a single task. The present is merely activity at a standstill. Duality.