Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BYU WIFYR 4: More from Janette Rallison

What is your character’s defining quality? (Do this with even minor characters.) I. E. Fear, control freak, etc.
Main characters: what is their defining strength? Defining Weakness? Yearning?

Other ideas for characterization:
write a bio
do character webbing
interview them
write a journal entry in their voice
take an event from your own life. Write, in character’s voice, about that event as if it happened to them.

Give characters more than one dimension.
Exercise: write 10 characteristics about yourself. Write 10 characteristics about your main character. They can be contradictory. (We all are.)

Inner Conflict: have your character want mutually exclusive goals.

Character growth: make sure she has changed throughout the story.

Perfection (in people) is for the next life, not your novel.

Don’t make a character an idiot.

Characters must be likeable.

Add Heroic characteristics:
think of a personal hero
write down six qualities they have
what makes her heroic?
What was the moment you became aware of that characteristic?
Assign that quality to your hero. Find a way for her to show it in the first scene.
Find six more points before your climax to show that quality.

Characteristics of heroes (James Frey):
Clever and resourceful
Has a special talent (then you must make sure she uses it somewhere)
Lives by their own laws
Good at what they do for a living
Takes the lead in a cause or action at some point in the story
Has been wounded (hurt, disgraced, grieving for a lost love)
Motivated at some point by idealism
Attractive or has sex appeal.

It is the characters that people remember. “No one ever wrote me a fan letter about a plot line. It’s always a character.” (Someone else said that.)



Michelle said...

I really appreciate your taking the time to share these notes! Keep 'em coming! Many thanks, m

Melinda said...

You took better notes than I did.

I think I'll just send people here.

Zina said...

I really like the one about "Don't make a character an idiot." I would add to assume that your reader is intelligent . . . although it can be annoying if an author also expects you to be able to read his or her mind.

I can think of "great authors" who have very effectively violated one or more of these guidelines -- but often their works are not my favorites. Anyway I can see how these guidelines could fix a lot of not-so-great books.