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March 2018

What every character needs, actually … wants

As promised, here’s what I learned about character. Now, this post is not going to go in near the depth the class did, so I highly suggest you check it out.

Every character must have:

  1. A want. If the character needs something, the story is about fate. If they want something, it’s about the story being driven by the character. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as they want it.
  2. A weakness. As the instructor in the videos said, “We love Superman because he’s vulnerable to Kryptonite.” Imagine for a moment if he weren’t. Every character has to have a weakness. Maybe it’s their anger, their jealousy. Maybe they’re allergic to air or moondust. It doesn’t matter, just find one (or more) for them.
  3. Where are they from? This is both geographically and emotionally. Their region of upbringing will affect their language, their culture, maybe even their strengths and weaknesses. Think about how growing up an army brat would change a person. Their emotional baggage they bring with them affects their personality, the way they react to anyone and everything. This needs to be discovered before they first word is written.
  4. Where are they going? This one’s a little more difficult to explain as the teacher didn’t explain it very well to me. What he said was if you know where the character is coming from and what they want, you will know how they will react to obstacles they come across or are thrown at them. I think what he meant was, are they going to have a smooth ride? Will they get what they want? What will happen to them along the way? That sort of thing.
  5. What do they do to surprise you? Pantsers’ characters surprise us all the time. I had no idea Anya would get jealous of Gevin when he was chosen, but by golly she did! She was such a strong character to me, book three really shocked me when she broke down and panicked. That should have been a warning bell for me, and it was. The scene where they face their greatest fears? Yeah, that took me days to figure out what hers was. She didn’t seem to have any, and I kinda made one up in the end. But hey, it worked, so there. This is one reason I’m recommending you do all this before you start writing. That way you don’t wait till book 3 of a series to finally discover what gets your character’s goat.

That’s all I’m going to discuss in this post. Again, I highly recommend you take the class, and good luck with your writing!

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Handing in my pants – but not permanently of course

I’m gonna knock your all’s socks off.

I’m plotting.

No. Serious plotting. As in, I’m spending today doing nothing more than creating my characters. It used to be that I discovered plot and characters as I wrote. I totally pantsed my stories, unless or course I ran into a dead end or something. Then I brought out my trusty 8-point arc and went from there. But recently, I found the 8-pointer didn’t do it for me anymore. So, I got more serious with my writing.

Now, I’ve always been serious with my writing, and I’ve wanted to take courses for years, but I only recently have been able to (mainly due to not being able to find any, especially cheap enough I can afford it—aka free—and yet still legit). I’m glad I waited to be honest. I think I’m learning more from it now than I would have in the past.

So here’s what I’m taking:

https://www.coursera.org/specializations/creative-writing

It’s a 5 course series offered by Coursera. In order to get graded and join in on the peer reviews, you have to pay the $50/month, but all the lessons and actual assignments are otherwise free, just not the grading a peer reviews. I’ve only done part of the first course, but I’ve learned a great deal and am very impressed. While I plan to do every assignment, no matter how silly I think they may be, I’m also working on my next story while I do.

For example, we’ve learned the major plot points, but explained in a way I’ve never had explained before. I feel like I’ve leveled up to a higher plane or something. Also, we’ve learned about character. And that character drives the plot. I’ve heard a lot about plot driven and character driven before, but I’m only now understanding it. I’m going to explain a bit about the characters’ needs and wants for the story to have a greater depth, but I’m going to make a separate post for it. Here’s a link:

What your story’s characters need.

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