Monday, November 17, 2014

Doing a Characterization Session and Realms Faire Winner

Thanks to every one who participated in the Realms Faire and the Dragon Hunt last week. The winner of a $20 Amazon card and a copy of How to Promote and Publish Your Book Now is...

Dolorah at Book Lover

Congratulations!

Thank you to all of the entrants and to the nine people who posted dragons for me - Christine Rains, Cherie Reich, Stephen Tremp, Susan Gourley, Melanie Schulz, Medeia Sharif, Alex J. Cavanaugh, Jo on Food and Travels, and Mish Writer in Transit.


Characterization

Kathy McKendry’s daughter Jess was invited to speak at her brother’s elementary school about writing and her book, From the Ashes. Kathy asked for suggestions, and I mentioned the characterization sessions I do for schools.

Last week, Kathy posted:
“From your comments, we decided it was best to involve the kids as much as possible in the talk. Jess decided her main topic would be character development and she would walk the kids through creating their own characters. She made a worksheet for them where they could fill in character traits like hair color, skin color, birthplace, etc.”

She was happy to report that it was a big success!

I’ve always taught that characters are the heart of any good story. It’s the foundation. And doing those sessions in schools is a lot of fun. I cover four basic areas:

Background - race, upbringing, parents and siblings, and economic status

Personality - type, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and goals

Physical attributes - weight, height, hair color, etc.

Misc. - age, friends, children, and other important details

What other attributes are important to a good, solid character?

37 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Diane--I think you've come up with a good list! Maybe spirituality or just general outlook--optimist, pessimist, etc.?

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome you're doing this at schools. Sounds like fun for you and the kids.

Nicki Elson said...

What a great way to get kids involved. I also like it when chareacters have some sort of little quirk, like Harry Potter's hair that just won't stay down or a character taht always snorting at the end of a laugh or something.

Gah! Sitting in my drafts folder is my incomplete dragon hunt list! I meant to get back to it by the end of the week and then BAM week's gone. I still had fun hunting down the dragons I did fine. Congrats to Donna!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Elizabeth, I do have religion in the background section.

Nicki, adding quirks is a good idea. I'm sorry you didn't get to send me your list of dragons.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Diane - congratulations to Donna on winning your dragon hunt - glad you had lots of entries .. even lurking ones.

This sounds like a lot of fun - and could work for the elderly too ... it would encourage them to be involved ...

I suppose hobbies .. if it doesn't fall into the general section ... cheers Hilary

Al Diaz said...

You were organizing dragon hunts? I got a bath from the faire folks last week. :) Congratulations to Donna!
I have flaws in my characters list. I believe flaws make them more interesting and if there is something particularly weird, it's better.

Jo said...

I was sorry to take down my picture of Ruth this weekend. My favourite Pern dragon. But then I like all the Pern dragons if not all their riders. Glad the hunt was successful and congrats to the winner.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I always include greatest fears and greatest hopes in there.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Congratulations, Donna!

Sounds like a good check list for character development.

J.L. Campbell said...

Congrats to your winner. I agree that characterization is soooo important to our stories.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Congrats to Dolorah and Kathy.

I also like to imagine specific childhood traumas (simple to complex) and big positive moments.

Clarissa Draper said...

I like my characters to have quirks. What are their pet peeves?

Jay Noel said...

That's a great starting list. I also like to add how they speak. Are they loud? Do they have a lisp? Stutter? Or have a favorite catchphrase or word they use often? (I hear a lot of teens say the word "literally" all the time. Literally, I do).

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Hilary, that's a good idea.

Al, we should have been hunting you.

Jo, Ruth was always my favorite.

Holly, those can make a big difference in how a character reacts.

jay, speaking is a good one.

Sarah Foster said...

Love your list. I'd have to agree with Hilary on the hobbies. I always feel like my characters don't feel real until I give them a hobby that they're passionate about.

dolorah said...

Yay! I loved looking for all the dragons, and reading all the posts. I was about to think Ruth would not appear, but finally he did. Jo, Ruth is my favorite also!

Have fun with all the kids Dianne.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great characterization tips. I like to know things that my characters don't want anyone to know about them. Also what they like best and least about themselves.

Mason Canyon said...

I like the characterization tips and it's neat you do that for schools. Congrats to Dolorah.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I think it depends upon the story you're writing as to some of the extras. But personally, I like to see the character 3 dimensional and that means using the list you mention. I find when I do, then those traits become evident in the story even though one doesn't write it out there.

Good reminders.

Tyrean Martinson said...

That sounds like a great book talk! I think "heart's desire" is an essential for every character - does the character want above all else to belong? to be free? to protect his/her friends/family?

I also think sometimes fun, miscellaneous questions like - what color are this character's favorite shoes? - are good too. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

Congrats to the winner. Personality stands out the most to me. Great list.

Michelle Wallace said...

That's a good list!
And there are loads of great ideas in the comments...
Congrats to Dolorah!

New Release Books said...

Great ideas in the post and comments and your have a good list.

DMS said...

What a great list!I love how it is broken down into the four categories. I also might include a character quirk or something that makes them seem a little different (we all have quirks, so it doesn't have to be anything crazy). :)
~Jess

obattbcyangalami said...
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Maurice Mitchell said...

Congrats to Dolorah since that's an awesome prize! That's great since all those points would make a really well rounded character.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Great list. I can see how it would provide clear insight and make those tough scenes less hard. Dragon hunting. Sounds pretty scary. Although, they are indeed very special creatures.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love using the Positive Trait and the Negative Trait thesauri when developing my characters.

M Pax said...

Glad you had fun with the Dragon Hunt. Congrats to Dolorah.

I write a brief story of my characters' lives before the story opens. It helps me flesh them out.

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! said...

Greetings human, Diane,

Great to see Donna as the winner. She is one of my adoring human fans, don't you know.

I hope the hunt didn't Dragon too much.

"What other attributes are important to a good, solid character? " Writing about humans has made me realise that my character is more good and more solid by having my humans learn simple tricks such as roll over and beg!

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny

Peaches Ledwidge said...

Congrats to Donna and thank you for sharing your tips on characterization.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats to Donna!

Great points to think about when creating characters.

Lynn said...

For personality, I like to create a music list for my main character, and a habit they hide from others. Great list!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thanks for all of the great suggestions!

Caryn Caldwell said...

Sounds like you do a wonderful presentation! Great idea to focus on characters. There's so much to say about everything in writing, that having a particular subject to discuss is probably so helpful.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Love it. Teaching kids about writing can motivate us as much as it does them.

Sarah E. Albom said...

I usually go with a basic 'appearance, personality, habits, background, conflicts, and miscellaneous'. Then if there's anything special I should add I put in another area. Don't know if that covers it all though - am I missing anything??