Thursday, November 15, 2012

Workshop 12

It's time for more Operation Character Development, aka Cosmetic Surgery.

Character help for every manuscript.

The exercise can be used whether you are still in the planning stages of your manuscript, almost finished writing, or in the throes of editing and revising. It's a fun and interesting way to line up your characters, from the star of the show to the tiniest backstage props boy and audition them again for keeping or tossing.

There are so many different ways to write a story and the characters will make each act different, in different ways! So for your manuscript to come out just as you envision it will, it's vitally important you choose the right characters. This step is fantastically helpful, even though it may take you a while to complete. I promise you will thank me for it later (or sooner, if you prefer:)

Your first step is to write down a few questions and ask each character every question on your list. Now, you are already familiar with with some degree of why a character is in your novel. You don't have a faery godmother just to look magical and add sparkle - she's the good faerie who exchanges her magical powers to save the life of the man she loves. The little boy isn't just any boy, he's the one who brings his jobless mother the lost puppy, who in turn belongs to the rich guy who needs a live in nanny for his children. Write down the purpose that you already know for each character.

Now, for the questions:

Do I love this character?
Do I think about him while driving to work, in the shower, cooking dinner, or during the office meeting?
Am I constantly creating a new quirk or funny dialogue for her?
Is she used for an unexpected plot twist and would be missed if I deleted her?
Am I partial to him, yet objective enough, that I can create him from the view point of writer, character and a reader?
Will this character be one level all through the manuscript or will he change?

What I mean by the last question involves the character/emotional arc. Some characters do a drastic change from beginning to end. Even the antagonist changes in some way. But some characters don't change. Sometimes, an abusive husband/boyfriend never changes. On the other end of the scale is the girl who is kind to every person she meets, even the enemy. her kindness never goes away, even when it lands her in trouble.

Okay. Now it's time to to check out the rest of the characters involved with each other on the list.

Let's take the the good faerie. You know she's going to give up her powers for the man she loves. who else will be involved with this part of your story? Let's make a list:

1. The man she met while on earth as a child, learning the ways of the humans. He saved her cat from the tree. But they were children and has no way of knowing who she really is.

2. An ex-boyfriend, who now hates her because she gave up her powers for a human.

3. The Guardian Fae, who stands to be outwitted by the jealous ex-boyfriend.

4. The Guardian's daughter, who knows the plans of the ex-boyfriend because she secretly love him and had been ignored by him since his love for the good faerie has been known.

5. The good faerie's sister, who has been thrown into the middle of it all, without a choice.

6. The good faerie's apprentice, who had been promised a portion of  her mistresses powers when she graduated.

Wow! That's a lot of excess characters and if you don't know their specific places on stage, you may have some aimless writing! Lets' dissect even deeper.

If you are writing a suspense or mystery, the Guardian's daughter could be your MC. She's been thwarted in love and has a deep hatred for the ex-boyfriend and the girl he loved at one time.

If you are writing a drama, maybe the MC could be the apprentice. She's been struggling for years and hoping to one day earn a better living for her family. She was planning on those added powers to move her up in society.

What if you are writing a coming of age story? The MC is The Guardian's daughter, who changes her view on life after watching true love change to bitterness and hatred, and her journey to find love again, while growing up in a world full of hate and revenge.

You see, the choices are endless. They are limited ONLY by your imagination! Each of these story characters would work on the stage of your manuscript in a unique way, depending on which way you take each person in story. It all stated with one character idea, the good faerie, but each idea went down a different path. When trying to decide, ask yourself:

Which idea lit a fire of creation or imagination
Who called out to you the most
Which one of the MC possibilities has the most potential for an obvious character arc

Okay, that's all for now! I hope your weekend is fabulous!

I have some news about the workshop. This is the last class until after Thanksgiving holiday. I will be having Thanksgiving with my children this weekend and then traveling home next week to be with my husband's family. Then, I will be celebrating again next weekend with my family. So, I will be busy with family and I am SO excited.

The next lesson will be on NOVEMBER 26, as will the check in.

The Two Sentence Contest winners will also be announced. If I have the winner list back from the secret judges before then, I will post! I promise!! And I have been in contact with them and I know a little about what they are saying so far...


  1. That's going to be a lot of turkey! Have a wonderful triple celebration!

  2. Thank you for this!! :) I was looking at Stephanie's first scene in the diner, and upon re-re-re reading the scene I realized I had a character named Lisa that walked up to the table and had one line. She really wasnt doing anything, and I had forgotten about her after that one line. I gave it to someone else and cut her out. No one misses her, she was just extra that I didn't need.
    Have a happy thanksgiving. :)

  3. Have a happy thanksgiving! And thank you for this class, very useful and am looking at my characters now with it in mind.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe and be blessed.


  5. love your ever changing, always cute blog! happy Tday!

    and this was a wonderful article, yes, i love my characters!! need them & they change as the story goes =) yay!

  6. Really, really love the snowflakes! Beautiful. Oh, and I posted a little something about your blog on my blog today. Hope you don't mind.

  7. Oh, it is so pretty over here! I love it...I now need Hot Chocolate, so festive and fun!
    I might have to give you a new nickname... Inky Elf ;D

    I will miss you! I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving! ATB 2U... Be safe!

  8. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving with all your family!


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