Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Author Toolbox Blog Hop- Character Building

August 13, 2020
mandyevebarnett


character-cube

Whether you spend time intricately plotting and creating your story line or let the story flow unbidden, one facet of all stories that must be created and created well are its characters. Your protagonist, antagonist and all the supporting characters have a ‘job’ to do. They must give our readers an insight into their personalities, their struggles, ambitions and fears. Characters build the ‘world’ you have set your characters within by showing it through their eyes, their thoughts and actions.

Every writer has his or her own methods, when it comes to the creation of a character.

  1. Name,
  2. Physical attributes
  3. Personality traits.
  4. Setting.

For example, Setting: an alien being trapped in a spacecraft, a monster hunting its prey or specific behavior traits for period pieces.

Physical features: This primarily gives our readers an image but more importantly an idea of their personality. A thin, acne-faced teenager will not automatically give our readers the idea of a ‘superman’ kind of personality but a muscle bound, athletic type could.

Name: a good starting point for our creation, but it is also a minefield. Research into real persons, living or dead should be foremost, unless of course you are writing about that particular person.

Accent: a character’s voice says a lot about their location and background.

Real people or not: We can base characters on people we know or a combination of several or from people watching – an author’s favorite pastime. As writers situations, overheard conversation and life in general is a constant source of inspiration.

character-development (1)

There are numerous ‘character development work sheets’ available on the Internet and it can be useful to fill them in for your main characters, if you have no clear ‘picture’ of them to begin with.

I tend to write the story letting my characters dictate how their story will unfold. In so doing the characters develop creating their own story. This tends to change the narrative from my initial perception.  In this way they may develop characteristics I had not considered or react quite differently to a situation from my preconceived idea. This method may seem harder than having a detailed description of each pivotal character, their backstory and emotional compass, but it is my method.

We ‘live’ with our characters for a long time and they become ‘real’ to us. This enables us to write the story with ‘insider knowledge’ of our characters backstory, their emotional compass and their ultimate goal. This knowledge becomes paramount during the subsequent drafts and editing process, giving us a well-rounded character and a believable one for our readers. In truth, the initial draft is the testing ground for our characters, and revisions make them well rounded and ‘believable’.

Character profile

How do you create your characters?

Recognize these characters? Remember how irate poor Wile E Coyote would become with Road Runner? No matter what he did he never succeeded in catching his ‘dinner’. Beep, beep would ring out as yet another ACME kit damaged the coyote instead of the bird. It was truly a lesson in perseverance. No matter how many times the speedy bird escaped the coyote he would try, try, try again. I actually went past a road sign to Acme on my way to Canmore one time and wished I could have made a detour just for the fun of it.

wile-e-coyote-roadrunner

The art of creating such lovable and memorable characters is what every author strives for. We hope our creations will stay in our readers minds long after the last page has turned. Character profiles and back story play a large part in ensuring our characters are well rounded and believable. We delve into their personality type seeking out traits and habits to make them react to their crisis situations in an authentic way.

Do you make up scenarios for people you observe? Have any made it in to a manuscript?

 

Without 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.

With such a guideline our characters become clearer. A lot of the details will never reach the pages of our manuscript but knowing our characters well makes for a more believable personality as they struggle through the trials and tribulations, we subject them to. As most of you know I am a ‘free flow’ writer so everything is by the seat of my pants until the editing starts. This is where I find character flaws or great character traits that I can correct or build upon. My characters live with me during the writing process and usually lead me in directions I had never considered – I’m sure many of you can relate to that. As these personalities gain strength they become more ‘real’ and that is the moment their true selves appear.

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. For example this sheet.

character

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – 10 Tips To Get Your Writing Mojo Back.

June 11, 2020
mandyevebarnett


block 2

Typically, I write my entire first draft without getting feedback, with the “door closed,” a la Stephen King. For me this draft is a flow of words as the story plays like a movie in my head. Yep, madness rules when a story grips me.

However, for the past few months, I did not look at my current manuscript. It was although, I had lost interest. Although, I read, edited and commented on other author’s works, mine was left desolate. As the COVID19 months passed, I became worried that the writing bug had left me. I felt bereft. I didn’t mean to stop writing.

Has that ever happened for you?

There are lots of reasons that our creativity, in whatever form, can be cast aside or forgotten. Illness, a new baby, a new relationship, a new home or job, divorce, financial stress and many more. To find that creative spark again, we can use one or more of the following:

1. Firstly, do not feel guilty – it is counterproductive and harassing your muse is a form of procrastination.

2. Start writing – use a prompt, do a character study, write out a story idea.

3. Keep Writing – give yourself a time limit 20 minutes or an hour, or write a page, or 250 words. Choose one and stick to it.

4. Finish a small project.

6. Change the location of where you write – it can even be in a different room or somewhere local like your library.
7. Take a writing class.

8. Do another creative activity.

9. Make up book titles – based on well known novels or use a title generator on the internet.

10. Create a character description – including all their back story.

himalayan salt lamp near laptop on wooden table

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

For me the spark came back after a discussion on strong female characters and how to make their role believable. It ignited that interest again and I spent the past weekend editing and polishing my steampunk heroine’s character. This writer is back!

 

 

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – Numerous Writing Ideas – What to Choose Next

June 4, 2020
mandyevebarnett


close up of beer bottles on wood

Photo by Bruno Scramgnon on Pexels.com

Our creativity can be inspired from the smallest word, an overheard conversation or one we have had, an image, whether real or virtual, or even a globally known news worthy article.

What obscure stimulus has sparked an idea for you? 

As many of you know I am a free flow writer so apart from a vague idea where I want the story to go, it is a mystery to me. That is the thrill for me. It is an adventure I willingly travel with my characters. They lead and I follow with frantic typing. ‘Listening’ to my Muse enables me to create freely. It also means the story can change direction quite dramatically at times.

How do you approach new ideas? Frantic notes? Plot arc? Character descriptions?

No matter what system we use, an idea can grow exponentially once it takes hold. This is wonderful, of course, the only downfall being if we already have a bucketful of ideas already. It can be difficult to choose which one to go with first at times. I usually let several ideas ‘brew’ and the one that ‘shouts’ loudest is the one I start. It is not a fail safe method by any means but at least I have a direction.

However, an idea might be a segue to a previous secondary character that you can expand upon or it might be a natural follow up for one you have already written. Then you are in the realms of a series! This can determine your choice of which idea needs to be written first.

When you read through your ideas there might be a correlation between one or two and that could be the start of a new project. Keep your options open, let your Muse guide you.

Have you experienced a story unwilling to stay quiet?

How do you choose?

My novel, Life in Slake Patch was the result of a heated conversation regarding the patriarchal society we live in. I wanted to flip the status quo and have a young man’s perspective living in a matriarchal society.

blurb slake

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – 16 Weird & Strange Habits of Writers

May 14, 2020
mandyevebarnett


type writer imagine

The strange habits of some famous authors has always interested me. I cannot lay claim to anything this weird, mores the pity. Maybe I can cultivate something? Are you willing to share your ‘strange’ habit?

1. Demosthenes

The ancient Greek writer shaved half his head. Ensuring that by looking so idiotic, he would stay home and work, instead of facing ridicule in public.

2. Henrik Ibsen

The A Doll’s House playwright hung a huge oil painting of his greatest rival on his study wall. Inspiring him to strive to better his enemies.

3. Franz Kafka – Too Much Cake

Kafka allowed himself to eat a whole pineapple upside down cake when he finished a story. He did not share any of it!

4. Mary Shelley – Pet Snake

Shelley’s pet 23-foot-long boa constrictor was housed in her writing studio. With the snake wrapped around her shoulders she would write until the snake became restless and began to squeeze, then she stopped writing for the day.

5. Agatha Christie – Ate apples in the bath.

type

6. Isabel Allende – starts every book on the same day January 8.

7. John Steinbeck – needed two dozen sharpened pencils.

8. Patricia Highsmith – ate eggs and bacon for every meal.

9. Virginia Woolf – wrote at a standing desk.

10. Charles Dickens – slept facing north.

11. Dan Brown – hanging upside down inversion therapy for writer’s block.

12. Victor Hugo – wrote without clothes so he could not leave the house to met a deadline.

13. Francine Prose – writes facing a wall to limit distractions.

14. Truman Capote – never started or finish writing on a Friday. 

15. Anthony Burgess – use random words from opening a page in a dictionary to complete a descriptive passage.

16. Lewis Carroll – wrote in purple ink.

typewriter 1

 

Wordsmiths Collective Thursday – #AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Hashtags for Writers, Authors & the Writing Community

April 16, 2020
mandyevebarnett


HASHTAG

Today’s #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

We are all vying for attention on social media and one of the ways we can get more exposure is to use hashtags.

Put simply a hashtag is a label for content. It helps followers, who are interested in a certain topic, quickly find content on that same topic. Once someone clicks on that hashtag, they’ll be brought to a page that aggregates all of the posts with the same hashtags, in real-time. It is also a great way to discover other authors, writers and books in your genre(s).

Hashtags can be used on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There is a plethora of them specific for writers, authors, readers, the writing community and books. Here are a few but I’m sure you can list more!

Hashtags for writers.

#amwriting #amediting #writingtip or #writetip #writingprompt
#book #novel #nonfiction #fiction #paperbacks #short or #short #story or #shortstories or #shortreads #litfic #histfic and #histnovel #womensfiction
#scifi or #science #fiction #romance #paranormal #crime #suspense #kidlit #Writing #AmWriting #Creativity #Editing #WordCount #WriteChat #WriteGoal #WritingPrompt #WIP #StoryStarter #Creativity #MustRead #Novelines #FridayReads #TeaserTues #WriteTip #WritersLife #WritersLifeChat #5amwritersclub #WritingCommunity #readercommunity

Now over to you – how many more can you list?

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More Toolbox Blogs here: https://raimeygallant.com/

 

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