Character: Mental Qualities

There are SO many elements to a story, but I think character is the most important. Do we really expect a reader to keep reading our story if they can’t connect with the character? There are so many elements to a character beyond the name, age, education, job, goal in life.

To make character’s more three-dimensional we have to really break down what it is that makes everyone real. Are they the boldest person you’d ever meet until the subject of sex comes up? Are they the opposite, prudish until behind closed doors? This is why it’s so easy to base a lot of our characters on our friends and family members (I know I have and I’m in no way ashamed 🙂 ) – we know what they do, how they do it, and we don’t need to put a label on it.

There are so many elements and they can be either really fun or really challenging to write. Even just take attributes that seem like your character and explain to yourself why. My advice for this is not to focus on it directly, add it to your character’s way of thinking/behaving/reactions but this example is a no no “She is apt” “He is obtuse” – acknowledging it directly also takes some of the readers creativeness away.

I recently decided to add another facet to a character’s personality: volatile. I thought it described her unpredictability, but I was out to lunch with my writer friend, Ermisenda, and she explained to me all the different ways someone can be volatile and it’s inspired me to keep writing! 😀 Making your character more 3D will inspire you as well –  I guarantee it!
I’ve started this off with ‘Mental Qualities’ because everyone has them, and everyone needs them! But unfortunately you don’t see mental qualities as often, and usually when I do, they’re in the villans. Here are some to get you thinking.

Positive

Apt

Astute

Capable

Clever

Competent

Crafty Continue reading

Turning Poetry Into a Story

I’d never liked poetry, until last year. I was in my creative writing class and my lecturer says “we’re going to look at some poetry” and I groaned! What the exercise was, was taking a Jack Kerouac haiku and using it as inspiration, writing a story, moving smoothly into a memory and then back into the story. Through the exercise, I learnt the beauty in haikus and now I think they’re fantastic.
This is the one I used:

No telegram today
only more leaves
fell.”

It’s an awesome exercise and now I can read poetry and think ‘how can I turn this into a story?’ I want you to do the same thing I did. Write a thousand words based on one of these:

The bottoms of my shoes
are clean
from walking in the rain.”

“All day long
wearing a hat
that wasn’t on my head.”

Glow worm
sleeping on this flower –
your light’s on.”

No telegram today
only more leaves
fell.”

“Drunk as a hoot owl,
writing letters
by thunderstorm.”

(All of these poems are by Jack Kerouac)
Good luck 🙂

– Samantha M

I am sorry

I am sorry I haven’t been posting as much as I should have been and all my excuses aren’t even good ones! I am going to post some things in the next few days to help keep things on track, starting with character (my favourite!) 🙂

Message me if you need anything – help/ advice or general questions

 

– Samantha M

“Voice”

There are so many types of voices and I feel like when authors describe a voice, they don’t do it well. What annoys me is when people start describing a voice but then stop so you’re left with like half a description and I start screaming WHYYYYY!!!!

When describing voice, I think it’s best to start with the overall – something like the pitch (usually in romance novels the hero has a baritone – because apparantly tenors aren’t worthy). Describe how the voice makes he/she feel. Then when that is established, the voice can really be versatile for example: his usually sweet voice became dead – completely devoid of emotion. (Really terrible example but you get the gist). This, I find, will also make the characters emotions and reactions more real.

Here are some things to help you get thinking 🙂

Appealing – pleasant to hear

Aggressive – intense or harsh

Bellowing – to yell in a deep voice

Breathy – said breathlessly

Bright – happy or cheerful

Brittle – as though about to cry

Clear – distinct, easily perceptible

Coarse – vulgar or indecent Continue reading

“Fair”

Just the last few days I’ve been doing a heap of writing but I am one of those people who hate repetitive phrases and reading over my stuff I noticed I’ve been doing it with ‘fair’ – as in ‘it’s not fair’.

I know there are several meanings to the word: pale, reasonable, good, adequate, pleasing. But the synonyms for reasonable, to me, are quite pompous and I don’t want to include some in that context because I don’t want it to appear that I’m trying too hard and also because it doesn’t suit the way my character thinks. Basically my character has just had a miscarriage and everything to her isn’t fair. I noticed it was coming up more and more but none of the synonyms are working. Doesn’t it seem quite pompous to say: ‘it wasn’t impartial.’? And that’s my biggest problem! All of these synonyms aren’t as simple as ‘fair’!

Today I scouted the web – desperately trying to find ones that will help me! And these are what I’ve come up with:

Right.

Good.

See there aren’t many. Otherwise I’d have to stick to words like: Unprejudiced, honourable, unbiased. Maybe this is just one of those words that people won’t think is a repetitive phrase. Maybe it’s fine to use fair in that context but just try to allude to the word by showing how your character feels and why it isn’t fair before saying it isn’t, that way it doesn’t become a broken record. That’s all the advice I have to offer.

 

 

“Suddenly”

I’ve done this post because, not only my friend but, plenty of writers try to use “suddenly” to emphasize how fast something happens and I find that it’s not done as effectively. In some cases, writers just get lazy and don’t describe the situation and replace ALL that description with “suddenly”. Or like in my friend’s case, she just wants to show how quickly it happens – even when she’s already described it. Because it is an adverb I find it to weaken description like they can weaken sentences, (for those who don’t know: Adverbs are adding the ‘ly’ to ‘sudden’), and I try to avoid them like the plague because it can also give you more of a challenge; finding how to write sentences without those in there.

With the “suddenly”, you’ll notice this a lot in novels, and by the time you reach the end of it and get through all the “suddenly’s”  you’ll be feeling like me; whenever there are too many repeated words my mind makes them sound like “Yesterday” and the way it’s sung in the Beetles song. Deadpan and sombre.

I just find “suddenly” is used so often that it’s lost its meaning because everyone uses suddenly when they shouldn’t or, if they’re well-known, they’ll do it just because they can. After looking through some of the synonyms, I’ve found that they aren’t as… irritating; and if you avoid using them as an adverb then it will have a better effect with your writing.

Abrupt

All at once

Direct

Fast

Haste

Immediate

Instant

Instantaneous

Pronto

Quick

Rapid

Rash

Snappy

Speedy

Straightaway

Swift

Unanticipated

Unexpected

Unforseen

Unintended

Unplanned