Monday, November 5, 2012

Workshop Day 5

Calling all characters! Where are you Mr. and Mrs. Character? It's time for Operation Agent Ink to do some Cosmetic Surgery. Wanna help with YOUR characters? Bring out the scalpels, make up, implants, steel plates, and whatever else you can think of to rock out your characters.

Start with you MC and make a list of must haves:

Do general stuff first, such age, birth date, physical descriptions (eye color, build, size and weight, so on and so forth.

Next, do some snooping. What his backstory? His religion? Her politics and education?

Does she have any quirky traits or favorite phrases she likes to use all the time?

There must be an internal conflict. What is it with our MC?

Then, there's also the external conflicts. List are they?

Don't agonize over these decisions. You can add things, or change them, as you go along.


Something you need to think about is how/when/where you will introduce your characters personality and character traits/descriptions. When writing, it so much "better" to write these things naturally. What do I mean? Okay, read this example:

Her hair was black as midnight. It was lon and curly. The dress she wore was pink and her shoes looked like glass. The chair she sat upon was plush and soft and the scepter she held out towards me was pure gold.

Wow. That's pretty bad, isn't it? Run away, fast!

Let me try this, and see if it works better:

Sunshine glinted off Snow's black hair and as she bent forward to extend the golden scepter, a curl fell over her shoulder and rested in the crook of her elbow. Sparkles glittered from her pink dress and the dainty glass shoes clicked softly when she tapped her foot. Never has there been a more elegant picture sitting in velvety plush cushions of purple.

Okay, this was just off the cuff and a *little* over the top in description, but I hope you could see the difference in the way I described her.

I didn't tell you about the princess, I showed you, in a natural setting.


So, now's the time for you to read through your story and watch for places where your characters fall flat and need some love. How did you describe them? Should you replace any of your descriptions with something more "natural" with more showing then telling?

Here's a few tips to help you introduce your characters, if you are in the beginning stages of your writing. Make a checklist of where/when/how you will do the introductions:

Which scene will you describe his appearance? Remember, too, you don't have to describe him all at one time. Little bits here and there will work, naturally.

Where/when do you plan to introduce quirky saying's, actions or annoyances?

What about the internal conflict? Write down when/where/how you show that.

Don't forget to make cards for her strengths, weakness, motivation and goals.

Does your MC learn a valuable lesson? Where will you describe that? In several segments or all at once?

Does you MC suffer a trauma or have some type of secret past or wound? Write down how/when/where you plan to reveal that. Who learns it first? Why did they learn about it?


Any questions? You can comment below, or send a private email to

workshop ink in the book @ g mail dot com (no spaces, of course:)


  1. I like that you mentioned thinking about the placement of these little bits of characterization. There are a lot of great character sheets out there to help folks come up with details, but judicious placement of those details is just as important.

  2. Good job with your off-the-cuff examples of show vs tell :-)

  3. I agree with Connie, we don't always think about how to spread these things out and find the right time and place to introduce different details. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Helloooo to you Talyn! These writing workshops that you've been doing are so much fun and so helpful! I wanted to let you know that I tagged you in a recent post at The Heart Of A Writer! Hope you'll be able to participate in this writing challenge!! But take your time!! I understand if you can't do it right away.. NO PRESSURE!! I know how it feels and believe me, I've had a lot of pressure lately!! ~tee-hee~ Take care Talyn!!!

  5. Excellent tips. Thanks! It's always useful and refreshing to learn the true basics of good story-writing.


I missed August's posting

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