Mandy Eve-Barnett's Official Blog

Inspiration for Writers & Building A Community ©

Ask A Question Thursday

January 24, 2019
mandyevebarnett


ask-a-question-logo-300x150

Thank you to everyone who has joined in this month’s conversation on genre. We have indeed covered all aspects of genre from writing it to marketing it.

Today’s question is: How much of your ‘personality should you put into your narrative? In other words do you, or should you, utilize family memories, personal history or ‘local’ knowledge to create a realistic tale?

Some genres may not readily seem to avail themselves to personal input but even sci-fi or fantasy has interactions where you need to think what reaction a character would have in that situation.

I am excited to read your thoughts on this question. Please click on the post headings & then scroll to the comment section.

over to you

 

Last week’s responses:

biancarowena
As a ‘pantser’ I tent to write whatever I feel and see in my mind’s eye, then edit later. This makes for a lot of editing, as compared to planners. I know how time consuming reconstructing a story can be. So I’d personally recommend knowing your genre before writing the story, and sticking to it. Publishers what to know how to categorize your story. It’s not to limit you but to help them know who your target audience is. They know which genre is in demand and are looking for specific things. If your genre is too vague or you don’t stick to one then your book is less marketable, in a publisher’s view. I think for the sake of not having to rewrite your entire story (if your genre is not clear or shifts), it’s best to know your genre before delving in, and sticking to it.

Janet Wees

When I was writing my book I was calling it historical fiction as it was based on a true story but with some fictionalizing. When it was accepted for publication, my publisher changed it to non-fiction, based on a true story. What happens with that in bookstores (not the independents), is that the book is shelved with research, resource, history and since my name begins with W it is on the bottom shelf near the floor and is crowded out by the other larger resource books. Browsers never see it, and anyone looking for it has a difficult time finding it. The next time I write a book I am using my maiden name that begins with M.

Gerri Bowen

I tend to follow formula and am happy doing so. However, if well written, the unexpected can work well. But if not handled with care, can be a book you want to toss into a wall.

A. C. Cockerill

Hi Mandy, I start with the genre and adjust if the story shifts. Cheers, Ashley

Characters – The Hub of Your Narrative…

December 22, 2014
mandyevebarnett


articlesWithout characters our stories would have no real impact on our readers. We write to engage and intrigue them and hopefully make our protagonist the character our reader cares about. If your experience is anything like mine, there is usually one, or possibly two characters, that make their presence known in no uncertain terms. They want the starring role in our narrative. These characters are usually more defined in our minds and are ‘easier’ to relate to, whether because of a personality trait or that they are more fun to write. When creating the protagonist and antagonist in our stories, we give each opposing views and/or values. This is the basis of the conflict that carries our readers along their journey. Each character, whether major or minor, needs to have flaws and redeeming features, motivations, expectations, loyalties and deterrents.

character-development

This leaves us with the problem of developing our supporting characters with as much attention to detail as the main antagonist and protagonist. When creating characters we must remember to ensure that each character acts and responds true to their given personality. Character profiles are a good way of ‘getting to know’ our characters, this can be achieve mainly by utilizing character’s names, personality traits, appearance and their motivations. A name is a vital part of creating a mental image of our character for readers. The right name can give them a quick visualization of our character’s age, ethnicity, gender, and even location, and if we are writing a period piece, even the era. For example if I say the girl was called Britney, you would probably picture a young girl because of the association with Britney Spears. However, if a female character were called Edith or Edna, you would imagine someone born several decades ago. So you see a name is not just a name.

A burly man would be called something like Butch but not Shirley, unless of course you are going to tell the story of his struggle throughout childhood to overcome the name.  There are plenty of web sites available, which list the most common names for each decade and locations around the world.  These are great resources for writers, who require particular names for period stories or want to stay true to a certain decade.

Character Cube

The use of a nickname will also give your character an identity, be it an unkind one given by a bully or one of respect or fear for the bully. You would expect Big Al to be just that, a large person, however, Little Mikey would be the exact opposite. Nicknames, or sobriquet’s can work very well in defining an ethnicity as well but care must be taken not to offend a person of color. Obviously there are certain words that were in common usage decades ago that are not politically correct now, so we need to be diligent in their use.

We should also consider giving our characters a conscience. Will the hero question his actions if they are extreme to his morals? Does the villain have a deep-seated angst? What motivates them? Some flawed characters can be difficult to write on occasion as they are far removed from our own personality (well I certainly hope so!) but with care we can accomplish a believable character.

How do you set about building a character?

Do you write out a full description of your characters?

Have you based a character on someone you know, a famous personality or mixed up several people’s traits to make a new one?

Pretentious Personalities Help Create Characters…

November 20, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Pretentious – definition: assuming an air of great dignity or importance : pompous

pompous

As writers we strive to create believable and memorable characters. One way to do this is to study characters in movies or on TV that resonate. I found this great list of pompous characters, all of whom are well liked in their media situations but would certainly be difficult to actually live with in the ‘real’ world. Each of these characters have clearly defined personality traits, which make them well rounded personalities.

http://whatculture.com/tv/8-lovable-tv-characters-insufferable-real-life.php/1

There are many methods that, as writers, we can use to form a character. One of the most common is a ‘character biography’ or ‘profile’. I have inserted a couple but you can always formulate your own. We can also utilize personality traits from people we know or even celebrities. A good deal of the information and back story we put into our character’s profile will never get onto the page but with our knowledge of them ensures our character reacts to the situations we put them into, in a ‘realistic’ way.

What method(s) do you use to form your characters?

bio sheet

Character

Inherent Uniqueness…

October 2, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Inherent – definition: existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute

handsgrasped

We are all unique beings, even twins have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. Many years ago, I knew twins, who were so dissimilar it was hard to comprehend. One was an ‘earth mother’ wanting to be married with lots of children, the other the absolute opposite, wanting nothing to do with a family life but driven to become a business woman and fiercely independent. Even though they were identical in looks; until one cut her hair short; (you can guess which one!) they could not have been more different. They shared the same gene pool, the same womb and facial features but even those conditions did not define them as individuals.

What makes us different? Nurture or nature? It is a question that has been researched, discussed and pondered for many decades. Some experiments were utterly cruel in the name of science, such as the case of Bruce Reimer (Brenda). http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/dr_money_prog_summary.shtml  This is not just a tragic story but horrifying in its detail. Even though Bruce was conditioned to believe he was a ‘girl’ he knew that he was not and suffered dreadfully.

Acceptance of our true self is a basic need for all of us, whatever that may be, as long as we do not force our beliefs and views onto other people. How dull would the world be if we were all the same – clones if you will – thinking and behaving exactly the same?

Do you have a unique trait or know someone who has?

As writers creating unique characters for our narrative is paramount. It draws our readers into the story and hopefully engages empathy with the characters and their plight. As in real life there is an unlimited amount of personality types to choose from or create.

Who’s Charismatic to You..?

September 23, 2013
mandyevebarnett


Charismatic – definition: having an extraordinary ability to attract attention or admiration

When thinking about charismatic people who comes to mind for you?

Has a famous person’s life or career inspired you?

Here are a few of mine:

Hugh

JudiMarilynMerylOprahPaulRichardSeansharon

Blog at WordPress.com.