I recently had to renew my driver’s license, and even worse had to do it in person. Despite my attempts to renew online, Texas DPS system screwed up and I had to come in and fight the long line and seedy waiting area. Over two hours later, I had my new license paperwork, along with a horrible new photo to grace the plastic card.
It’s probably one of the worst photos I’ve ever taken. Not quite as bad as the photo of my eyebrow bashed in with a baseball bat, swollen and stitched to the nines. But pretty close. Clearly in the middle of a blink, the lovely/overworked/cynical/ humorous woman at the DPS counter wouldn’t let me take another one. So now for the next ten years, I must live with a mutant zombie grimacing on the front of my license.
I feel that way about incomplete characters in my manuscripts. Or at least, if I can’t see my characters in my head, they come off as incomplete and merely two-dimensional. So it’s like writing the rest of your manuscript (driving down the road) with a hideous license. Good Lord, let’s hope writers don’t have to apply for licenses just to be writers. Talk about a country that loves regulations!
That’s why character sketches are so important to me now. Before, I didn’t really give them more than a page or two of thought. But then my wonderful critique partner showed me what she uses, and I searched for several others, and realized I was hardly scratching the surface. I wasn’t even scratching the polish coat.
Here is a list of several sites I found with great tools to help build characters:
You can also find several other helpful tools if you become a member of Greater Ft Worth Writers, where we have a whole bunch of downloads for our members on our website.
All of these have helped me get to know my next characters better, and amazingly found plotting even easier now that I could see them so clearly.
If only Texas DPS would let me retake my stupid drivers license photo. I’d feel even better about carrying around something that’s supposed to represent me, instead of a two-dimensional half-creature. Or maybe I can get them to have me look like Katherine Heigl or Reese Witherspoon.
Posted in Writing
Tagged characters, DPS, Driver's license, License, Manuscript, photo, plotting, questions, sketches, Texas, Texas Department of Public Safety, WIP, work in progress, Writer Resources
So, I’ve only gone through the first round of revisions on my manuscript and have sent it out to my critique group. And I’m not stopping there.
I’ve already started plotting and creating the character sketches for the next book that’s twirling around in my head.
Some could call me a glutton for punishment, since I have at least 2 more rounds of revisions on this thing. But I’d rather get these ideas on paper than let them continue to torment me in my head. I’ve had this story idea for a little over a year, but didn’t have enough of a concrete plan to bash it out on paper.
But this time around, I’m paying more attention to the character development than before. Because in this particular story, their personalities are going to be a lot more center-stage. So for the first time in my life, I’m focusing on the characters first, and not the plot.
Even searching several screenshots of people online (Yahoo Images) to see if I can find anyone that closely resembles the image I have in my brain of my characters. I can’t draw for crap, so literally sketching them isn’t gonna work. I’m much more visual.
But I can sketch the rest of them on paper. Their goals, motivations, conflicts (GMC to any of you writers out there). What makes them tick, sing, cringe, and I can find all their buttons (and push them relentlessly!)
A writer friend of mine gave me what she uses for Character ‘Interviews,’ where she gets to know them more by playing the role of a therapist while her MC’s sit on a couch and dish out their lives and inner most thoughts. Creative!
If you peruse around on the web, you’ll find a whole bunch of different resources to help you create your characters. Character Development, character sketches, character questions… type in anything for ‘character’ and you’ll find umpteen-million.
The one I’ve used before I found here.
But clearly that’s not the only thing I’m going to use to know every inch and cranny of my characters for this iota of an idea. But you need to start somewhere.
Posted in Writing
Tagged amwriting, character, character sketch, characters, conflict, creative, critique, Fiction, first draft, GMC, goals, interview, Manuscript, motivations, plot, plotting, PostAWeek2011, Protagonist, Revision, Scene, therapist, WIP, work in progress, Writer, Writer Resources, writers group, Writers Resources, Writing